I’ve been having a quiet battle with the seemingly ubiquitous Palm Oil of late. I’d been watching out for it, but I really took issue several months ago when my husband brought home a perfectly natural (read: stir it your-own-damn-self) peanut butter from the store. No, he didn’t screw it up, I’d asked him to pick up some natural peanut butter, and I didn’t specify, and no one is a label reader like I am. It was Whole Foods brand and it had freaking Palm Oil in it. WTF, Whole Foods?! Yes, I promptly returned it.
Today I found Palm Oil in a ready-made pizza crust at the grocery store. It’s in tons of stuff! It sneaks in where you’d least expect it. It’s a total bummer and it’s starting to piss me off. What do you think?
Here’s a short history of Palm Oil, why it seems to be stalking me, and a nice and tidy letter I’m going to send off to any company who’s product I find it in – that you can edit and use too. Let’s really get after these bastards who think it’s okay to destroy the environment, the rainforests, and who are helping to kill off endangered species. If you need postage, just let me know!
So, Palm Oil: It’s a whopping 41% saturated fat (no cholesterol though since it’s a vegetable oil, but it will raise your cholesterol!) and is one of very few vegetable oils that is a semi-solid at room temperature. It’s highly stable when used for frying foods and is very cheap to buy. It also gained popularity when Americans became conscious of Trans Fats – Palm Oil, being so nice and semi-solid, stepped up and took its place.
Did you know Palm Oil used to be used as an industrial lubricant during the industrial revolution and is currently used in soaps and household cleaners? Gross. It can also be made into fuel and given America’s hunger for cheaper gasoline these days, I fear Palm Oil fuel will become more popular than ever and many people won’t care about the rainforests as long as they can save .20 cents a gallon on the fuel pumps. I’ve already read an article about it being the next fuel for the airline business to keep prices down!
Information I found on the Rainforest Action Network’s website says that 50% of products at the grocery stores contain Palm Oil and that you could find it as an ingredient in any room of your home.
Many people farming and producing Palm Oil are destroying the habitats of 1,000′s of species including elephants, tigers, and orangutans with many of them being killed in fires which were started to clear the land. Other plantations are being placed where peat-lands were, draining a peat-land releases a high level of carbon into the atmosphere and increases our greenhouse gases.
On the other hand, you should also know that not all Palm Oil farmers are killing animals or causing mass deforestation, but there is no way to know which kind of a plantation any particular jug of Palm Oil originated from. It would be best to avoid all of it until they find a way to certify and label it. It’s like the blood diamond of the oil industry!
Please, please, please feel free to use the following letter for your own complaining needs! Edit your name and address as well as the name and address of the company you wish to send it to. Edit any of the letter as well, personalize it if you wish! Just please mail or email them to the companies of the products you find Palm Oil in. We need to stand up and complain about what we don’t want! They feed us enough crap as it is (fillers, stabilizers, colors, preservatives, GMOs, etc.) and they’ll do it as long as they think they can make money at it. If cheap, shitty oil is going to hurt their bottom line because we refuse to buy it…well, that’s when they’ll change their recipes!
P.S. I will post below when/if I hear back from any companies.
Here’s the letter:Your Name Your Address More Address
May 10, 2012The Nasty Company Their Address More Address
To Whom It May Concern:
I’m writing to you in regards to (ENTER PRODUCT NAME) I recently purchased at my local (ENTER GROCERY STORE). I have to preface this letter by letting you know that I am a big fan of (THIS PRODUCT/YOUR COMPANY). I frequently buy it to share with my family; I take great pride in the quality of food I buy and prepare for myself and my family.
I was shocked and dismayed when I read the ingredients list and found Palm Oil is in it. I know it’s a cheap alternative and helps keep out the Trans Fat everyone is keeping their eyes peeled for. But, really? People are starting to catch on to the fact that clear cutting, growing plantations, harvesting, and selling Palm Oil is very bad for the environment and is proving to be fatal for orangutans, elephants, tigers, and many other wild and endangered animals. Many of them have been killed by the clear-cutting fires!
My family and I are vegan: we don’t eat animals, we don’t wear products that come from animals, and we don’t buy products with animal ingredients, or that have been tested on animals. I also don’t purchase products that contain ingredients, which have displaced important habitats for so many animals.
I am a vegan environmentalist and I read labels. I may have gotten lazy and trusted the “all-natural” green-washing on your packaging and grabbed this package without reading the label completely, but that shall not happen again. I value rainforests and peat-lands too much to encourage your continued use of a cheap vegetable oil.
I am also aware than not all Palm Oil is responsible for deforestation and environmental damage, but right now there is no way to positively label or determine which is the good oil and which is the bad. For now, I will ban it all from my household.
I do, with all sincerity, hope that you take another look at the environmental impact Palm Oil production is doing to our Earth and rethink using it in your products.
Christine Junecc: Fox 31, Denver, Consumer Reporter Consumer Reports Investigations United National Environmental Program People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals
1. Letter mailed to Heartland Brands, Collegedale, TN on May 12, 2012
2. Letter mailed to Whole Foods Market, Austin, TX on May 29, 2012
3. Letter mailed to Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, San Leandro, CA on May 29, 2012
I received a letter from Ghirardelli! It’s long, but here it is:
Dear Ms. June
Thank you very much for taking the time to write us concerning the use of palm oil. Your letter has been forwarded by the colleagues of our 100% subsidiary “Ghirardelli” to the Group Headquarter of Lindt & Sprungli in Switzerland because the very important topic you mention is committing the Group as a whole and not only single subsidiaries.
VEGETABLE FATS. Lindt & Sprungli, including Ghirardelli, is one of the few chocolate makers in the world that have complete cont (sic) over every step of the production chain starting with the precise selection of the finest cocoa varieties from the best growing areas in the world right on through the careful and expert processing until ending with the elegant packaging. The chocolate liquor as basis for our chocolate is made, as a general rule, exclusively with cocoa butter, this is to say without any use of other vegetable fats. Only for some of our fine fillings as well as for three Ghirardelli plain chocolate products mentioned here below we are also use other vegetable fats than cocoa butter, among others palm oil, though to an extremely small extent. More than 42 million tons of palm oil are produced worldwide every year, the amount that Lindt & Sprungli Group utilizes accounts for less than 0.004%.
Ghirardelli has four baking chip flavor products. Semi Sweet, Milk Chocolate, 60% and Classic White, All these products, with an exception of Classic White, are cocoa butter based. Classic White chips are formulated with non hydrogenated palm oil. In addition to Ghirardelli’s Classic White chips, another Ghirardelli plain chocolate product called “Candy Making and Dipping Bar” (dark and white versions) is also formulated with non hydrogenated palm oil. Other than these three plain chocolate products, all other Ghirardelli plain chocolate products use exclusively cocoa butter as the primary fat.
Even if Lindt & Sprugli’s (including Ghirardelli) use of palm oil is extremely low (less than 0.004% of worldwide production), like you we are aware of the negative impact on the environment/bio-diversity of an uncontrolled expansion of palm oil plantations, and we are actively engaged in the area of palm oil with several activities.
-Alternatives: Look for alternative fats than palm oil, a) whenever a new product is developed and, b) via continuous analysis for replacement potential of existing products.
-Supplier Code of Conduct: All our main suppliers – including the palm oil suppliers have to subscribe to the Lindt & Sprugli Code of Conduct, requiring a full commitment to preserve the environment.
-Lindt & Sprungli is an active member of the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil which supports the sustainable cultivation of oil palms. Further information can be found via the following link www.rspo.org
Following the assessment of the current palm oil usage and its origin, Lindt & Sprugli is in process of requesting its suppliers to only deliver RSPO-certified palm oil from sustainable sources. For the time being we are sourcing RSPO palm oil certified with the Book & Claim System and rank –with 7 points — among the top performers in the WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011.
We hope that we could show that we are concerned about this issue.
It seems English is not her first language. All the gramatical and punctiuation errors were found in her letter – it did arrive in the mail from Switzerland. BUT I found it to be an honest and thoughtful letter and not just a copy/past reply to my letter! Very touching.