Posted by: Michael D. Austin | May 22, 2008

Palm Derivatives in Consumer Products Accelerate Climate Problems

Indonesia, according to the Rainforest Action Network’s vid, is the world’s third-largest producer of climate change gases like carbon dioxide. And, we’re paying them to do that every time we go shopping. Let that sink in. Ahem…uh…

Here’s how: giant agribusiness, like ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), Bunge and Cargill are slashing and burning many thousands of acres of rainforest to create palm plantations. Plantations can often be monocultures which instantaneously destroy ecological balance, habitat and species. Then, under our daily radar, we’re sold products containing the palm derivatives produced from those plantations.

Palm derivatives are used in everything from Whole Foods’ “organic” peanut butter, to shampoo, to Ivory soap, to Ritz crackers and microwave popcorn. If you’re really interested in this you can start checking labels like I did. Rainforest Action Network’s site has examples to watch for, but the easiest thing to remember is to read the label, and if it has “palm” anything in it, put it back and select something else. Palmitic acid, palm oil, palmitate, whatever. Problem solved.

In his syndicated feature in the Los Angeles Time’s op-ed section from 5-19, author and activist Glenn Hurowitz discusses how agribusiness and other consumer conglomerates are selling us things containing palm oil, palm kernel oil, palm fruit oil and palmitic acid. Generally, the offending ingredients contain a “palm” prefix. We’re paying them to create global climate change, destroy species, and start a cascade of environmental problems which we can’t yet see an end to.

And, for any of us who like to be careful what we eat, consider the high levels of saturated fats in palm oil. I’d sooner drink a Crisco cocktail. See Wikipedia’s entry about palm oil, under the subsection, “Chemistry and Processing” for a primer.


Responses

  1. Well written article.

    Like


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