Lend a Hand to an Orangutan
by Guest Blogger Debbie Noyes
The other day I was in the check-out line at the grocery store. The clerk held up the new Truffle Pig candy bar that I had purchased and asked me how I liked it. I told her of course I love it for its rich chocolate flavor but the real reason I bought it was because it contained no palm oil. She looked at me blankly and asked, “What’s the issue with palm oil?”
Unfortunately getting the information out about palm oil is almost as difficult as avoiding it.
Palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from a few species of oil palm trees found in Africa, South American and Asia. It’s used in all types of products from processed food, cosmetics, cleansers, cooking oils and even biodiesel. If your product foams, it probably contains palm oil. There is some debate over the risk of cardiovascular disease from eating it but the palm oil itself is not the biggest issue. It’s where and how it’s grown.
The bulk of palm oil is imported from Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil plantations there have become a huge high-yield cash crop. In order to keep up with demand the the rainforest is being slashed and burned at an alarming rate. According to the Orangutan Project based in Australia, 80% of orangutan habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia has been destroyed and 50% of the population has died in just 10 short years. And of course many other endangered species have been devastated by the rainforest destruction, including Asian elephants, tigers and the Sumatran rhinoceros.
In response to this criticism, the palm oil industry created the self-regulating Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). A plantation is considered sustainable if grown on land that was cleared prior to 2005, meaning that no new forest was removed. While it’s a step in the right direction, participation is only voluntary. There is also controversy because companies may choose to label themselves as an RSPO member without actually being certified as sustainable.
So I can simply avoid products that list palm oil as an ingredient, right? Not so fast! There are a staggering number of alternative names for palm oil. Follow this link for a helpful list and some common products that contain them (organic products can contain palm oil, too).
Got a smart phone? Then get the new free Buycott app for your Apple or Android based phone. This clever app allows you to scan the barcode of items before you buy them. Simply download the app, join the “Say No to Palm Oil” campaign and start scanning. It will alert you when the product contains palm oil.
There are many other campaigns to join as well, including human rights, LGBTQ or say No to GMO. It’s a great way to show your support for companies that share your values and avoid those that don’t. Want to know who donated money to animal welfare legislation? Who supports factory farming? Yep, it’s in there.
You will be shocked at how many large brand name companies use palm oil. But with a little effort and a handy new app, you will be on your way to saving the rainforest without ever leaving home. The orangutans will thank you for it.
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©2013 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved. www.reikishamanic.com
Think Outside the Cage
In private practice since 1996, Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing, is a mesa carrier in the Peruvian shamanic tradition, animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, author and artist. As an animal shaman she views her mission as one of building bridges between people and animals through healing sessions, classes, ceremonies and events such as A Walk on the Wild Side: Answering the Call of the Wild, and Animals As Healers and Teachers.
Rose’s book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.
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