Following a plant based wholefood diet means when buying products outside fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and pulses we need to look very carefully at the ingredients list on pre packed foods. First we need to see if it is vegan friendly and secondly to see how many ingredients the products contains, for health & nutrition reasons.
Ingredients are listed in descending order i.e. the greater the ingredient the higher it will be in the ingredients list. However there are some ingredients listed in food products that aren’t all they seem, namely vegetable oil.
Over the past few years much has been reported about the devastation of our world’s rainforest and their inhabitants from the sourcing of palm oil or vegetable oil as we commonly know it as.
In Australia, it is not mandatory to label palm oil in a product. Over 40% of products on Australian supermarket shelfs contain an unsustainable source of palm oil but are labelled vegetable oil which is of great concern. But why you ask?
Palm oil, made from the fruit of the oil palm trees is the world’s second largest oil crop. Extensively used in food, body care and industrial products Malaysia and Indonesia are the world’s largest palm oil producers. According to the Palm Oil Action Group (www.palmoilaction.org.au) over 300 football fields of rainforest are destroyed every hour in South East Asia clearing forest for palm oil plantations. And this comes at a price.
For the Sumatran and Bornean orangutan, these rain forests are their natural habit, their home. At a rate of 50 plus deaths a week, they are victims to the fires clearing the land and or being captured or killed as they are forced to find food outside the destruction of their homes so oil palm trees can be planted.
According to the The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) they predict that by 2022, the palm oil industry could wipe out 98% of Indonesia’s remaining forests and this means, the orangutan as well. And how we buy and what we eat is contributing to this destruction.
This is not only a concern to a plant based eater but a concern to all whatever your food choice. Being mindful about the origin and ingredients of our food does not only benefit our health but the environment and all its inhabitants.
Men are not ruler of the animals, nor are rulers of the land but what we are should be protectors of all that is around us. We need to ensure we protect the equilibrium of nature before it’s too late.
So what can we do to limit the use of palm oil in our food products? A bill (Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labeling – Palm Oil) Bill 2009) introduced by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown and Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Senator Barnaby Joyce was sadly rejected by the house in 2009. This bill was to see manufacturers accurately label palm oil among its ingredients. So what now?
As a consumer if you wish to avoid the consumption of unsustainable palm oil, you need to stop buying products containing this ingredient; start contacting the food manufactures for information on the source of the vegetable oil and speak to your local MP about seeing your concerns heard in our parliament. Like we did a few weeks ago, we contacted Nuttelex to find out their source of palm oil and thankfully were informed they use a certified sustainable palm oil in all their products (see our Facebook post dated 3rd April https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=434794696614576&id=186212225024).
So there is an alternative? Yes and a sustainable one at that. Companies can substitute palm oil for an alternative vegetable oil such as coconut oil however if this is not possible, then a Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is available. This palm oil has been produced by a plantation which is planted on already degraded land or grassland NOT rainforest approved by an certification body in accordance with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) Principles and Criteria.
As consumers, we need to have the manufactures hear our voice. If the alternative is available, then why is it not being used? In order to make change, we need to set the wheels in motion.
Tarian Pantry is all about food for choice. We make choices everyday with regards to what we eat, how we buy and who we support. We encourage you to be more mindful about the products you buy on a daily basis to see this benefit health, the environment and the Sumatran and Bornean orangutan.
Eat mindful. Save our plant.