Thursday, August 22, 2019

Palm oil and the environment; a complicated relationship

Editor's note: We received a request from a follower to provide some insight into palm oil - timely, given that it August 19 marked International Orangutan Day. Here is the TL;DR version: It's a complicated issue. The oil palm is the most efficient producer of vegetable oil in the world, but its agriculture has significant environmental impacts - including deforestation and terrible impacts on endangered species like orangutans. One of the surest ways of reducing the impact of palm oil agriculture is to purchase products that use sustainable oil palm agriculture. Read on for more. /ms

Article by: Tyler Linwood

What is palm oil?

You may or may not be familiar with the name, but chances are that you're more familiar with this versatile product than you know. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree. In fact, it is the most commonly produced vegetable oil in the world. The reasons for this include:

  • It is a relatively healthy form of fat to use in processed foods
  • It is relatively cheap to produce
  • The oil palm tree is highly productive compared to other oil producing plants. 

Oil palm trees are native to Africa but were brought to southeastern Asia in the 19th century. Now, Indonesia and Malaysia are the two largest producers of palm oil, and together account for 85% of the world's palm oil supply.

What products commonly contain palm oil?

Read more, including what you can do, after the jump.