Is Harvesting Palm Sugar a Greener Alternative to Palm Oil?


photo: Navitas Naturals

We here at TreeHugger have long taken issue with the oil palm industry. With the expansion of the oil palm plantations have come illegal logging and clear cutting in Malaysia and Indonesia. But could the age old industry of harvesting palm sugar be a good green alternative industry in Southeast Asia? Navitas Naturals is using the palm in a much more positive light.Navitas Naturals introduces an organic palm sugar called Coconut Power, a sweetener made from coconut palms. Coconut Power is a pure cane sugar alternative. Coconut power is actually palm sugar with all the liquid evaporated into a granual form.

How is palm sugar harvested and why is it better for the environment?
Harvesting palm sugar is traditionally done by small, local sugar tappers that climb to the top of the palms (often palmyra palms) to collect the sap from the palm flowers. The sap is collected in bamboo containers and then cooked for several days and the residual molasses is filled into coconut shells and allowed to harden into a cake.

According to the Inner Press Service (IPS), "a major advantage with palm sugar is that palm trees can be tapped all year round, ensuring continuous production and incomes, compared to the seasonal harvesting of cane sugar." The trees are maintained for their sap instead are being cut down. This could potentially bring another economic industry to areas dealing with the environmental destruction that goes along with the massive oil palm plantations that according to the UN, are clearing trees so rapidly that up to 98 percent of Malaysian and Indonesian rainforests may be destroyed by 2022.

Navitas Naturals claims that their sugar tappers receive fair trade prices and other benefits like training and market access assistance, and that the money that the local farmers make stays in their small communities.

More on Green Sweeteners:
Wholesome Sweeteners Celebrates $1 Million Dollars In Fair Trade Premiums Paid To Sugar Cane Farmers
The Zevia and Stevia Controversy: Is the All-natural Diet Sweetener Safe?
Sweeteners and Diabetes

Tags: Cooking | Diet

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