This blog post is sponsored by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.
I first began cooking with palm oil about 6 years ago, when I baked one of my famous blackberry pies using palm shortening. I’d never used a shortening quite like that before, so it was fun trying something different, and it made a very nice pie crust. I can count myself as a fan of palm shortening ever since that day!
But even if you’ve never baked with palm oil in shortening form, you have almost certainly used it. According to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), over 50% of supermarket goods contain palm oil. From food items like chocolate, cookies and donuts to household goods such as detergents, cosmetics, and soap, palm oil is an extremely common ingredient. However, the RSPO also states that out of the 13.47 million tons of palm oil consumed globally, only 21% is certified as coming from sustainable sources.
The negative impact of palm oil is no joke: Unsustainable palm oil production is linked with the destruction of rainforests, creation of air pollution, endangering animal species, and causing human rights violations with forced and child labor. If you’re unfamiliar with the impact of palm oil, you can read more about this topic on The Guardian’s Palm Oil Debate page.
I’ve actually been aware of the issue of sustainability in palm oil since I tried that first recipe with palm shortening, because one of the things the product noted on its website was the fact that it was made using eco-friendly farming processes. The world is becoming more aware of the impact of palm oil production, and the RSPO is one of the organizations working on this issue. Founded in 2004, the RSPO is a collective of palm oil producers, consumer goods manufactures, investors, banks, and environmental/social NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund. The goal of the organization is to work towards 100% sustainable palm oil by 2020.
This organization offers an RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil logo for products it has certified. While there is still a long way to go, you can click here to read the RSPO’s monthly progress report to see what has been achieved.
Palm oil production has the potential to be devastating – or positive. As with most matters of consumption and sustainability, it’s a big and complicated issue. But the good news is that we do have a choice. Producers have the choice to adopt more sustainable farming methods, but this will only happen if consumers create a demand by making the choice to buy “Good” products using eco-friendly palm oil, and speak out against the terrible practices from “Bad” palm oil that are harming both workers and the environment. There is a mountain to climb here, but awareness is the first step to making better and more sustainable choices.
For further information from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, please visit GoodBadPalmOil.org. You can also learn more about the RSPO by following them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
Readers: Did you realize how much palm oil you consume? What are your thoughts on sustainable palm oil?