The Dirty Business of Palm Oil
Every time you buy a product, you show your support for the materials used, the company’s ethics and standards, and what that product represents. The same is especially true of food. The reason organic fruits and vegetables have become so popular and used by mainstream companies, is mainly because more and more people showed their preference by simply buying them. So it is important that we, as consumers, be careful of what food we buy. And it is because of this that I urge you to avoid food products that use palm oil.
Palm oil has become increasingly popular over the years as a cheaper substitute for canola oil. It is found abundantly in items such as cookies and sweets (Oreos for example), and many other processed foods. The countries from which palm oil is obtained are tropical and ore times than no developing nations like Brazil, Colombia, and Malaysia. On account of this the palm oil industry often resorts to colonialist methods of conducting their business; for example, the corporations that are responsible for harvesting the oil are scrutinized because they often obtain their land illegally while cheating the locals out of land that they can use for their own agricultural purposes. In addition, this industry is guilty of destroying at rapid speed the habitat for many animals (endangered and otherwise) and much of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. In order to harvest the oil, farmers will slash and burn acres of rainforest and agricultural land in one fell swoop. And often, the local formers are not even being compensated fairly. This causes a vast amount of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere, while the decimation of the rainforest allows for less and less CO2 to be absorbed by the trees. And this double negative unfortunately does not equal a positive.
So the next time you are out grocery shopping, be wary of what you are eating. Check the ingredients to see what you are eating (and while we’re at it, avoid modified cornstarch too, which is used as a sugar substitute and twice as deadly). Every time you buy something you are, essentially, voting for it. If you want to take your protest a step further, you can also write these companies a chastising letter. Remember, the squeaky wheels get the grease, and when we reach a critical mass companies have to take notice because it will mean a loss of profit.
Here are some links with more information: