Going palm oil free
Is it possible to completely avoid palm oil?

So should we go palm oil free?

It’s easy to get bogged down in the detail. This morning, as I prepared breakfast, I found myself checking the ingredients on my litre bottle of milk for palm oil … I put my silliness down to the time of 6:35 showing on the kitchen clock but it did raise the point of how hard you have to check the label on everything to be truly committed to going palm-oil free.

I’ve had a lot of support and interest in this blog, not least in the comments to posts, which are every bit as detailed and opinionated, if not more so, than my actual posts.

We shouldn’t have to go palm oil free- this blog will highlight the difficulties of doing so, and ultimately that doesn’t have to be the solution. I think a comment from Rika Nauck on a recent post summed that up better than I have done up till now, so am pasting it in below to make sure it is acknowledged and recognised:

While back in May 2009 [snip] the WWF published an article saying that only 1% of sustainable palm oil available on the market has been bought http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/media/press/2009/WWFPresitem12330.html

Of course there is no perfect reliable framework available. It is a huge problem in wich a vast number of organisations with different interests are involved. This will have to be solved in an ‘Try and Error’ approach.

Companies: Please use the palm oil that is claiming to be sustainable, label your products and be as vigilant as you can be on the controls. And if you get cheated about the source of palm oil – then be honest about it and resolve the problem.

Conservationists: Please keep on working to get control mechanisms in place

Customers: Please buy products wich are labelled ‘palm oil free’, or ‘palm oil from sustainable sources’ and be alert but patient when a company finds out that they were cheated into buying non-sustainable palm oil.

We had the same problem with the Tuna and the eggs. We all know that there are more organic/free range eggs on the market than there can be produced. Do we stop buying them? No! If we as consumers don’t give the incentive to produce them in the first place then there is nothing for control organisations to control.

We all know that where there is a lucrative market there will be cheat, but that doesn’t mean to give up on a generally good thing: It means we have to fight the cheating.

Consumers are already willing to pay the higher price for sustainable palm oil, we are already there. And we have shown in before: Tuna, eggs, reusable shopping bags, and Frigen in sprays and fridges.

So please, start trusting us! You do your bit and we are in!
It’s a win-win-win

Another campaigner, Sandra Dean, who has done far greater work than I have told me:
Just remember, it is not palm oil we want to avoid, it is unsustainable palm oil use.  If a business is using a sustainable palm oil supplier then that is fine, but they just are not at the moment.
Sandra’s blog and the results of her campaining can be found at http://www.notjustanessexgirl.com/orang-utan-appeal/
Sustainable use relies on consumers, conservationists and companies all to do their bit, and for all these stakeholders to be aligned and committed to this at the right time!
This is easier said than done -the Washington Post recently reported here http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124761243738541901.html that where the drive for sustainable palm oil was driven by Europe, we in Europe were often not willing to pay the premiums which are required by the oil producing companies in Malaysia to produce guaranteed sustainable palm oil.  This has to happen to set the ball in motion. With precedents as mentioned above such as dolphin-friendly tuna and FSC certified timber, the premium has to be fair, not overly-competitive, and ultimately irrlevant as the new certification becomes the norm.
For those who were wondering, I can confirm that Sainsbury’s skimmed milk is palm oil free!

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