The Palm Oil Story

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you doing? I hope a lot better than last month! At least, now all the items in our grocery list are available, online as well as offline. One can happily go back to the brands or types of products one is used to. I am very grateful that the brand of peanut butter I use is again available online. I am also very grateful that I am now able to make my own blend of wholegrain-multigrain atta/flour, once more.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to make rotis from the packaged atta/flour. Once you get used to eating rotis made of your own blend, you simply can’t enjoy them any other way! Same with peanut butter. The store-bought ones just don’t cut it anymore for me. And for good, I say.

Anyways, today’s post isn’t about peanut butter but palm oil. I am sure you have heard already that palm oil is not good to use but hardly a few know why.

What Exactly Is Palm Oil

Among all types of cooking oils that we use, palm oil is probably the one we would never consider using, in our kitchen even if it is the most-used oil commercially.

Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is derived from the fruit of African oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis. These trees are native to Africa however, are now grown extensively in Asia, North America and South America as the oil is much in demand everywhere today. Palm oil greatly contributes to the GDP of the producing countries. Indonesia and Malaysia make up for 85% of global palm oil supply today.

It is extensively used in most commercial food products be it ice-cream, doughnuts, toothpaste, cosmetics or animal feed…even your soap! Around half of the products that we use today have palm oil in them. Why? Because it is extremely versatile and cheap! It can give products higher shelf life. It gives the crispy, crunchy texture to the fried food like your french fries! It has no colour or smell so it is easy to use in food products.

Is Palm Oil Bad For Health?

It has a high saturated fat content which can be harmful for us and is linked to heart diseases. however many studies also say that if you eat a balanced diet (meaning less of junk), the effect is negligible.

Some other studies say that palm oil is rich in tocotrienols which is a form of vitamin-E. These protect our cells and reduce our risk of heart disease as well as cancer.

So, What’s The Verdict?

Palm oil might be okay for our health in moderation. If we consume less junk and processed food, the intake is very low. Which we should anyways and not just for palm oil!

Though one thing is sure. Palm oil is definitely bad for our environment. It is one of the major causes of deforestation around the world, especially the rainforests.

The palm oil tree normally lives for around 30 years but when it grows too tall and it becomes hard collecting fruit from it, it gets chopped down to make way for a new tree. And this chopping down leads to deforestation. This, in turn, leads us to climate changes and loss of habitats to many animal species such as Orangutans! Who said the earth belongs to humans only?

The use of less expensive palm oil is so extensive across industries everywhere that it results into massive destruction of forests and the environmental impact is huge today!

The worst part is that it has become impossible to avoid products that use palm oil. It is everywhere! Imagine my surprise when I noticed that motichoor laddoos that I got from a famous sweet brand, were made in palm oil too! I thought that brand wouldn’t use palm oil at least as every decent sweet brand/shop boasts of using ghee/ in its sweets!

By the way, did you know that ghee-flavoured oils are also freely available in the market today?

Why Not Find Alternative Oils?

Unfortunately, that is not possible commercially. Palm oil is an efficient crop. This means that it produces more palm oil per land than any other oil-crop such as soyabean oil or coconut oil. Thus means that much, much more land would be needed if not for palm oil. This would not address the problem at the core.

What Can We Do?

For starters and to safeguard our planet, we can identify and use products which contain only sustainable palm oil in them. How to identify? WWF has a rating tool for brands that you can easily use. The link is below:

https://palmoilscorecard.panda.org/

We can switch to alternate oils for personal consumption. In processed products that we buy, we can choose products or brands which are RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) certified. Certified palm oil protects the environment and the local communities involved in its production. It is very much possible e.g. in 2016, 75% of UK’s total palm oil import was sustainable.

This is all for today. And if you think that since palm oil doesn’t directly affects your health much and that you need not bother too much about it, think again! It is destroying our home, brick-by-brick!

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

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