What is palm oil?
Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil from the fruit of the oil palms. It’s cheap, it’s versatile, has a high melting point and a long shelf. It can be used in cosmetics and food, as well as in biodiesel, and is in 50 percent of supermarket products in the UK.
Oil palms can yield up to ten times more per hectare than sunflowers, rape seed, soya beans, and even less than that for vegetable oil. Only 19% of the worlds palm oil is certified as sustainable, but supermarkets such as Iceland who have been making headlines recently as they’ve committed to making sure all their own brand products are palm oil free by the end of 2018. Palm oil is responsible for the death of 150,000 Orangutangs and 90% of their natural habitat.
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So it’s been making headlines for a while; David Attenborough has explained how its ruining natural habitats and Leonardo Dicaprio has donated money to reforestation projects. What are you going to do?
If you can avoid it completely, do; but that can be a mammoth task. It is also believed that switching to other vegetable oils for the same purpose (sunflower for example) would be worse for the environment. Look out for palm oil that is RSPO ( that stands for Roundtable on sustainable palm oil) Certified. To get the seal of approval, the company has to agree that no primary forests or areas that contain significant concentrations of endangered species or fragile ecosystems will be cleared.
However, companies can try and beat the system and do this anyway, as it can be extremely hard to track, so if you can avoid it completely, do.
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There are extensive lists of sustainable and palm oil free / and what to avoid, but considering it’s in everything from noodles to make up to ice cream, it’s easier to find companies you really love that don’t use palm oil and work at being sustainable over all.
Firstly, Best Supermarket rating:
- Waitrose, all RSPO certified
- Marks and Spencer, all RSPO certified
- Sainsbury’s, all RSPO certified
TOP FIVE GREAT COMPANIES:
1- Pip and Nut – Amazing nut butters and almond milks that have no palm oil and no refined sugar. Also next level amazing flavours such as “chocolate coconut hazelnut butter” and “chocolate orange almond butter.” They also come in KILO sized tubs.
2- Kabuto – instant noodles – no additives, preservatives, plastic or sachets. They also work with three charities which you can read about on their website; delicious and kind. Flavours include miso ramen and vegetable tom yum.
3- Bouja Bouja ice cream and chocolate – Amazing vegan ice cream is their stand out product, but they also make sensational truffles and terrific easter eggs.
4- Rude Health – A london based food and drinks company who source their ingredients from ‘field, orchard and vines’, and only use sustainable and natural ingredients, and delicious vegan porridges, cereals and muesli is a highlight.
5- The Coconut Company – organic, vegan approved, unrefined, recyclable, palm oil free… I mean, wow.