What is Palm Oil?

What is Palm Oil?

Palm Oil is the oil that comes from a tropical palm-tree known simply as the oil palm tree.  Palm trees are a high-yielding crop and so it is a cheap source of vegetable oil for consumers, and am economically viable crop for growers. Palm Oil is found in food products, toothpaste, shampoos, chocolate, detergents, soaps, confectionary, cosmetics, bio-fuel. Even pizza.

It is now so prolific within food that half of packaged goods consumed in America contain palm oil.

Plantations for the Oil Palm are spreading across Asia, Africa and Latin America, which is causing mass deforestation and critical-loss of habitats home to diverse and endangered species. Most of the worlds Palm Oil plantations exist within Malaysia and Indonesia, both countries known for their complex bio-diversity. The Orangutan became the face of a campaign to raise awareness to Palm Oil Plantations, and to try shed a light on the issue, but so far Palm Oil consumption has not showed signs of slowing down.

In fact, sadly supply for palm oil is only growing globally. The UN estimates that Palm Oil plantations are the leading cause of rain-forest destruction, at an average rate of 300 soccer fields PER HOUR.

Rainforests only account for 9% of the earths land mass, which is dwindling rapidly due to Palm Oil plantations and deforestation for agriculture.

Palm oil plantations are found to create adverse environmental problems such as soil and water pollution, air pollution (from palm oil mills) carbon dioxide release from burning of forest to make plantations, soil erosion, mono-cropping leading to weaker ecosystems, and leaving land more fire prone.

So what can you do?

Start small. Read labels and check for Palm Oil on the package ingredients, and be aware that in some countries ‘Palm Oil’ is simply labelled as ‘vegetable oil’ so product research is super important.

You can research what products are Palm Oil free on websites such as:

ethicalconsumer.org

palmoilaction.org.au

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