In 2015, palm oil became the worldwide reigning vegetable oil. After watching an alarming rate of demand climb, it’s time to unveil the hidden truths behind this so-called innocent ingredient. Palm oil is 100% fat, and the damage it inflicts on our health and, equatorial countries and Mother Earth should truly concern us. In this blog, we uncover the dark side of palm oil and explore the necessary journey toward a palm-less, sustainable future.

Palm oil’s dominance in the culinary world cannot be ignored. Found in everything from our morning coffee creamers, margarine, diet bars, and cereals to baked goods, it has stealthily found its way into our diets. With a single teaspoon boasting a staggering 114 calories and an alarming fat profile consisting of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats, the time for a healthier alternative has come.

Palm Oil is derived from the pulp of the fruit of palm trees–palm trees that are known as Oil Palms. These trees produce bunches of fruits. Each fruit contains a kernel covered in a hard shell. The oil is extracted from the fruit and the kernel. Palm oil is a common cooking ingredient in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Brazil. Over the past two decades, demand for palm oil has partly increased because of commercial applications. Though cultivation seems cost-effective because of its minimal need for fertilizers and pesticides, this convenience has fueled the creation of immense palm oil plantations.

These plantations are not innocent endeavors but contribute to the deforestation epidemic decimating Earth. The magnificent rainforests, often dubbed the “Lungs of our planet,” are the unfortunate victims of palm oil expansion. As these palm oil farms are created, millions of trees capable of transforming carbon dioxide into life-sustaining oxygen, housing countless species of animals and plants, and harboring potential medical wonders are destroyed. The loss is immeasurable.

Further, the consequences of palm oil’s reign extend far beyond deforestation. As cleared land releases carbon dioxide and methane gases, global warming quickens. Currently, Indonesia and Malaysia take the spotlight as the largest palm oil producers. But with surging demand from India and China, the threat of further deforestation looms over Africa and South America, where new plantations may soon appear. With each lost acre comes the devastation of a vast natural habitat, stripping countless plants, insects, and the ever-vulnerable orangutan species of their home.

Amid the chaos, organizations like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil collaborate with plantation owners and farmers, working towards sustainable solutions. While sustainable palm oil does exist, it is a fraction of the colossal annual production, highlighting the urgent need for change. In 2013 alone, 596 tons of palm oil were produced, with a meager 98 tons achieving sustainability certification.

How can we combat this impending catastrophe? The call to action starts with each one of us. We can make a difference by understanding the gravity of palm oil’s impact and taking a stand. Read labels and refuse to buy products that contain palm oil. Each conscious choice brings us one step closer to preserving our rainforests and safeguarding the habitats of countless species.

Pass on palm oil for a sustainable future–for the rainforests, our planet, and, ultimately, for the greater good of humanity. Together, we have the power to restore the delicate ecosystems that deserve our protection.

 

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