What is palm oil?
Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil derived from the fruit of oil palms. This oil is widely used in many processed foods (cookies, candies. cereal, chips and more) as well as cosmetics, soaps and cleaning supplies due to it's low cost and high saturation. The global palm oil market is estimated to reach $92.84 billion in 2021 and one study showed that humans consumed an average 17 pounds of palm oil per person in 2015.
Why does it matter?
Every hour up to 300 football fields of rainforest are being torn down to make room for palm plantations. The palm industry accounts for the highest rate of deforestation in the world. Every year, 6000 orangutans are lost to deforestation and the Sumatran tiger is nearly extinct with less than 400 tigers alive today. More than 80% of orangutan habitat has been demolished in the last 20 years.
How can you help?
Be an informed consumer and check your snack label for palm oil or palm kernel extract. Eating more whole foods, vegetables and fruits rather than processed foods will not only lower the consumption of palm oil but may have positive health benefits as well. Cutting out palm oil in cosmetics, soaps and other items can be trickier as there are over 200 names for palm oil in non-food items. Check that your brand is palm free by doing a quick google search!