#GoWilde Week 32: Read Labels: Avoid Palm Oil

This weeks challenge addresses a serious issue that is wiping out critical animal species and ruining the environment: palm oil. 

Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil derived from the palm fruit, which is grown on the African Palm tree. Most palm oil (about 85%) comes from a devastating process of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. This deforestation produces CO2 emissions, displaces locals from their homes, and destroys environments for endangered species and kills too many in the process. 

One animal in particular that is getting wiped out from palm oil production: the Orangutan. Here are some facts to note about how palm oil is affected the Orangutang population:

- These rain forests are being cleared at a rate of 300 football fields per hour to make way for Palm oil plantations

- This deforestation process is killing thousands of orangutans, and the rest are left displaced, homeless and orphaned. 

- Orangutans spend up to 90% of their lives in trees

- Over 90% of orangutans habitat has been destroyed in the last 20 years by of palm oil production

- At this rate, orangutans will be extinct in the next 10-20 years

How to avoid palm oil

I'm not saying you can 100% avoid palm oil - it is in approximately 40-50% of household products that vary from candy bars, toothpaste, makeup, shampoo, etc. You can however do your best to avoid it by following the tips from Sarah McCluskey at Gaiam below:

1. The most common name palm oil is disguised under is “vegetable oil.” 

2. Prepackaged snack foods made by big name corporations (Nestle, Unilever, etc.) almost always contain palm oil.

3. If a product's saturated fat content makes up more than 40 percent of its total fat content, it will almost always contain palm oil.

4. If any ingredient with the word "palm" is listed, it someway or another comes from the Palm oil tree.

5. If you’re not sure whether a product contains palm oil, either type the product name into your search engine along with 'palm oil' and scan the search results, or contact the company and ask if they use palm oil. 

6. To avoid palm oil, choose products that contain clearly labeled oils, such as 100-percent sunflower oil, corn oil, olive oil, coconut oil or canola oil.

7. Bravo Whole Foods! Starting in 2012, the grocery store chain pledged to no longer use Palm oil sourced from the conversion of rainforests in harmful ways. So you can shop at Whole Foods knowing they are taking positive steps against harmful Palm oil harvesting. 

8. Palm oil is largely found in processed foods so start cooking meals at home using nutritious, real ingredients. 

So #GoWilde this week and educate yourself about palm oil. Actively reading ingredients lists and cooking homemade meals are not only better for your health, but helps take a stance to help the people and animals like the orangutan in Indonesia.