Palm Oil- why I try to avoid it

Kuching - Semanggoh Wildlife Centre


I hope you’re all having a great week! I bought a new product yesterday that I was so excited about. It was a peanut butter/ cookie/ chocolate spread that had been imported to Australia from the USA. It reminded me of all of those delicious nut butter spreads I see on the US blogs and wish I could get my hands on here. I immediately bought some and took it home.

When I got home I read the ingredients. Usually I read the ingredients in the store before I buy a new product, but I had the girls with me and we were a bit rushed so I didn’t stop and think about it.

I scanned the list and saw Palm Oil. I was really disappointed.


I try to avoid products made with Palm Oil. Unless they clearly state that they are made with Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. Not because I have a problem with the nutritional makeup of Palm Oil- to be honest I haven’t even really considered that aspect of it. However, according the United Nations Environment Programme Palm Oil plantations are the leading cause of rainforest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia. (Source)

Deforestation results in a loss of habitat for many many species, including some you would all recognise- the Asian elephant, Asian tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros  and the orangutan. (Source)
The Orangutan is Critically Endangered. They are being killed at an horrific rate both in Borneo and Sumatra and deforestation is a leading cause. In the last ten years the orangutan populations have decreased by 50 percent in the wild and 80 percent of their habitat has been altered or lost. (Source)


Sitting relaxed organ-utan

According to Zoos Victoria palm oil is in half of all grocery products on our shelves. (Source) When you start to look into it it really does seem that way. Zoos Victoria encourages us all as consumers not to avoid buying palm oil but to choose products that state they are Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. (Source) They say that avoiding palm oil altogether could simply shift farming and manufacturing to other oils that require even more land and forest destruction and really doesn’t solve the problem. By choosing products that are Certified Sustainable you are helping to promote and ensure sustainable practices that do not result in further deforestation and loss of habitat. (Source)

I have honestly never seen a Certified Sustainable Palm Oil badge on any products. It is something I am going to have to look further into and do more research. Essentially at the moment the best thing that we as consumers do is to be aware and where possible avoid buying palm oil that is not Certified Sustainable. For those who want to do more you can also write to the companies behind your favourite products and requesting that they only use Certified Sustainable products and that they clearly label their products.

Orangutan boy on the rope

Please if you are interested do your own research. It is quite alarming. There is lots of information out there and I know that as consumers we are constantly bombarded. But putting our money where our mouth is can be a powerful force.

Jess xoxoxox




10 Responses to Palm Oil- why I try to avoid it

  1. Oh, I knew that there were some ethical issues re palm oil but have to admit I wasn’t exactly sure what they were (think I thought it was something to do with exploiting workers on Pacific Islands… ?! God knows where that came from!).

    Thanks for sharing!
    Deborah recently posted…Zit-free zoneMy Profile

  2. I was absolutely HORRIFIED the first time I read about this!!! I’m not sure if you can get it in Australia, but I use Nutiva red palm oil which is great! This is from their website: “We’re excited to introduce our delicious organic Red Palm Oil grown on small organic family farms in NW Ecuador. By partnering with Natural Habitats in Ecuador we ensure that no deforestation or habitat destruction results from the growing or harvesting process.
    Nutiva is also promoting social programs near the area by building a small health clinic for the local doctor, and hiring a full-time soccer coach and providing uniforms for the local youth. As orangutans do not live in South America, no orangutan habitat is harmed by this product.”

    So glad you posted on this subject!
    greengirlrunning recently posted…A Tune-up RaceMy Profile

    • I’ll have to look for it! It sounds like a wonderful product! I can’t believe how little awareness exists with what we eat and where it comes from (and I include myself). Just horrific to think I’ve been contributing to such a tragic problem!

  3. I’m pretty new to the palm oil debacle myself – I started learning about it when I was investigating local ice cream brands after moving out to Singapore, and saw it as one of the main ingredients in so many. Following my instinct (uhh…I want a dairy product, not a palm oil product), I left those in the freezer case – then came home and did some research, and began learning a bit more about it. Further, slash-and-burn clearing to plant palms for palm oil was purported to be one of the contributors to the really bad haze we had in Singapore in June.

    Just one more reason to eat food in its least processed form (I’m pretty sure my fruits, veggies, and fresh meats don’t have palm oil…): less work scanning package labels!
    Holly @ Run With Holly recently posted…Weekly Workout Round-Up (July 29-Aug. 4)My Profile

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