Palm oil free – an update.

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I recently posted a blog about my decade becoming PALM OIL free.

This blog was one written from the heart and as such I feel it left out, and didn’t put enough emphasis on, some key points. I would like to take a look at some of those points with this blog

I am palm free for many reasons and only one of them is Orangutans.

85% of global PO production takes place in Indonesia and Malaysia. There are an estimated 8,500 species of vascular plants in Peninsular Malaysia. There are around 361 mammals species, 250 reptile species, and 150 frog species found in Malaysia. 677 bird species are found on Peninsular Malaysia alone. Orangutans make a great poster child for the fight against PALM OIL but I think we are at risk of forgetting that Peninsular Malaysia and the islands of Indonesia are one of the most bio-diverse areas of the world and we should be acting on this issue for all of that biodiversity, not just Orangutans.

Rafflesia arnoldii (the worlds largest flower) is just one of the species of plant threatened by palm oil production. (thanks for the pic Wikipedia By User:Rendra Regen Rais – Έργο αυτού που το ανεβάζει, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30421324)

We as a human race need a steady supply of fat in our lives to keep our big brains going.

We used to get that fat from WHALES! – Fats are part of myelin- a fatty material which wraps around our nerve cells so that they can send electrical messages. Our brains contain large amounts of essential fats. At the moment I wrote this there were 7,664,715,912 humans on this planet and that makes for a huge requirement for fat!

Lets multiply that up….

If we say that based on a 2000Kc daily diet a human needs 65g of fat a day then…..

7, 664,715,912 x 65 = 498,206,534,280g of fat a day to keep a healthy human race going. URRRRRRM we need to grow more fat!

Luckily, that fat comes from lots of different plant based sources so that’s got to be a good thing, right? If we are going to be clever about looking after Mother Earth for ourselves and all the other species we share her with then we are going to need healthy brains and we are going to need a healthy mix of sources of all that fat.

But other oil crops have a impact too.

Oil palm produces about 35% of all vegetable oil on less than 10% of the land allocated to other oil crops. Its actually very efficient to produce palm oil compared to other sources of oil. Other sources come with a range of their own environmental impacts too.

Here’s just a few

  • Soybeans – rain-forest destruction
  • Rapeseed – high greenhouse gas emissions and use of pesticides
  • Sunflower – high land use, nitrification, greenhouse gas emissions and soil erosion.

I really believe in a ‘everything in moderation’ approach and in the case of palm oil that is even more important.

I think my issue with PO really lies in that, it isn’t there in moderation. Sustainability isn’t currently guaranteed (even when there is a logo), It is replacing fats that are there naturally (peanut oil), its a sat fat being used in replacement for polyunsaturated fats and its in sooooooooo many products that it really has no business being in (Shampoo, toothpaste, bio-diesel). If our foods and other products had a good mix of fats, farmed across the world and not just in mega-diverse regions, then we would be making good headway. Between 1980 and 2014 PO production increased 15 fold – we need to slow that down for any chance of PO becoming sustainable.

I went palm free to prove to myself and everybody else that it can be done and its taken me a decade to get there.

I think that if everybody else made just a small step in that direction, cut it out of their non food products and maybe paid a bit more attention to their food (cooked fresh etc) we would reduce demand significantly, enable sustainability and be much healthier humans to boot.

I am not saying everyone should go PALM OIL FREE but what I am saying is everyone should become PALM OIL AWARE.

That way we can push towards reduction of our negative impacts on our lovely planet and all her other inhabitants. By making choices and taking control of our actions we can push brands using PO to work harder towards sustainability and good environmental practices.

 

Its really worth while having a read of this article from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/palm-oil-and-biodiversity