Palm Oil: A Rainforest in your Shopping

In yesterday's post on palm oil, commenter Dug asked "what is devious about using palm oil to replace hydrogenated oils? " - A couple of things, that we have covered on TreeHugger before. It is being widely used to replace trans-fats, but most of the cheap stuff is palm kernel oil, which is high in saturated fats. Studies have shown that "in terms of blood cholesterol, palm oil is somewhat more harmful than the average U.S. dietary fat and far more harmful than such liquid oils as olive, soy, and canola."(pdf here) The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reccommend: ""Cut back on foods high in saturated fat or cholesterol, such as meats, butter, dairy products with fat, eggs, shortening, lard, and foods with palm oil or coconut oil." But the health reasons are just the start; The main reason is habitat and environmental destruction. In March we showed this poster when we wrote about a campaign to ban palm oil, and today on the op-ed page of the New York Times, there is an article titled "The Vanishing Man of the Forest" :"Indonesia has achieved its goal of becoming one of the two largest palm-oil producers and exporters in the world. But at what cost? At least half of the world's wild orangutans have disappeared in the last 20 years; biologically viable populations of orangutans have been radically reduced in size and number; and 80 percent of the orangutan habitat has either been depopulated or totally destroyed. The trend shows no sign of abating: government maps of future planned land use show more of the same, on an increasing scale." ::New York Times

Last year TreeHugger said: "the recent panic over trans-fats has led to a dramatic increase in demand for palm oil, so manufacturers of potato chips can say TRANSFAT FREE! on their packaging. Moral of the story: do not just grab the transfat free chips or noodles- check the ingredients for palm oil (and almost all cheap ramen noodles, staple of students and treehuggers, are full of it) and only buy palm oil free. If you are fond of wasabi peas and other Asian delights, you will be shocked at how hard it is."

Read also ::Friends of the Earth

We do note that some palm oils are healthy and habitat-destruction free, (read ::Whole Foods) but how can you tell?

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