This blog post is sponsored by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.
Here at ReelMama.com, I often blog about recipes, but it’s rare that I discuss individual ingredients in too much detail. When I’m out shopping, I’m probably guilty of thinking about those ingredients even less. Ice cream, cookies, donuts…instant gratification for my sweet tooth, but what is really in those products? What about things like soap, lipstick, and shampoo? Love those as well, gotta have ‘em. Yet could they contain something harmful? We hear a lot about products containing chemicals that aren’t good for our bodies, but what about ingredients that aren’t good for the planet? Depending on where it comes from, palm oil is just such an ingredient: it can have a positive impact or a harmful effect.
Did you know that over 50% of supermarket goods for sale contain palm oil? In fact, around 70% of the world’s cosmetics and household detergents contain raw materials derived from palm oil. It seems we just can’t live without it. Globally, 13.47 million tons of palm oil is consumed. That’s a staggering number. Unfortunately just 21% of it is certified as being from sustainable sources.
What does that mean? Palm oil grown unsustainably can and in fact already has had a devastating impact on the environment, both for animals and humans. We are talking about permanent destruction of forests, habitat critical for endangered species like rhinos, elephants, orangutans, and tigers. Then there is soil erosion, soil and water pollution, and much conflict within communities in the aftermath of this destruction.
Of course we’ll argue that none of this is worth it for a bag of cookies or a tub of ice cream. Yet there is a way to have your ice cream (or cookies, or donuts), and eat it too. If grown sustainably, palm oil production can really benefit local communities, not to mention protect irreplaceable forests and the species in them. If farmers use sustainable practices, they can make more money producing more palm oil from less land. Sounds like a win-win!
So how can we make sure to buy products using sustainable palm oil? The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is hoping to make it easy for the consumer (busy moms like us). Look for the RSPO symbol on products, your assurance that it only contains RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil. You can check out some examples of products with the RSPO symbol here, and you can find out more about this great organization here.
An additional tip from my heart? Make things from scratch whenever you can! That way, you know exactly which ingredients are going into what you’re making, and you can often avoid the products containing “bad” palm oil. Your creativity could help the planet, and you’ll end up with something way yummier, or better, than anything on a supermarket shelf. You can even make your own soap! There are some great soap recipes from talented bloggers all over the blogosphere. I’ve also cooked with sustainable palm oil. It has a nutty flavor and is a great addition especially to many Asian dishes.
Check out this cool and thought-provoking video by well-known artist Jessica Dance. She knitted some of the foods containing palm oil and poses the question: is it good palm oil, or bad palm oil?
Check out this website for more “food for thought”! Are you surprised that so many foods and products at the supermarket contain palm oil? What are your thoughts about the good/bad impact of “good” or “bad” palm oil on the planet? Tell me in the comments section!