By Amanda Wilkes:
Palm oil is an ingredient prominent in most households, although most families are unaware of its disproportionate presence in many foods and products. In fact, palm oil is in about 50% of packaged foods and exists in many soaps, shampoos and cosmetics. Palm oil is a vegetable oil made from the pulp of the fruit that grow on oil palms. These types of palm trees thrive in tropical regions and are found mainly in Indonesia and Malaysia. As you can imagine, the palm oil industry is huge and the product in high demand. Unfortunately, the palm oil industry is making an extremely negative impact on the environment.
The demand for palm oil is great because of its ideal cooking properties: it is smooth and creamy, and does not leave an unpleasant odor when used at high heat. The natural preservatives found within palm oil allow it to have a much longer shelf life than many other oils have. It is highly desired also because it requires half the land that other crops need in order to make the same amount of oil.
Sadly, in various locations throughout the world, the palm oil industry has led to severe deforestation, which has led to the displacement of and constant threat to the well being of many dynamic animals. So why don’t we just stop producing palm oil? Because then we would have to replace palm oil with an alternative oil, which would lead to even more deforestation than that caused by the oil palm industry. Palm oil is an excellent resource, but it needs to be grown and harvested properly in appropriate locations so that harvesting it does not have any negative effects on the globe. We should also consider the fact that 4.5 million people rely on the palm oil industry to earn their living. If we eliminated palm oil production, we would have a severe economic crisis among those people involved in this industry.
Luckily, many resolutions have been developed to safely and harmoniously continue the production of palm oil. For now, it is up to the consumer to see that these regulations are implemented and followed. Our money talks … so, when we are buying products that contain palm oil, we need to always take the time to be sure the product is meeting the standards that qualify it as a Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) that coincide with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (ROSP) criteria. As of now, good palm oil accounts for only 21% worldwide; the rest of the palm oil being produced does not meet the ROSP standards that have been set. For now, not all palm oil is good for the environment; however, if we demand a change, it doesn’t have to be this way.