There are so many things to consider when deciding what food products to purchase that it sometimes overwhelms me. However, some decisions are just too important to ignore - whether or not to use palm oil products is one of them.
According to Wikipedia, palm oil has surpassed soybean oil to become the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. Palm oil is used as a cooking oil, it is found in many processed foods, and it is used in cleaning products, makeup, and even as feedstock for biofuel. The American Palm Oil Council tells us that palm oil is "packed with nutrients that contribute to your daily energy needs. Palm oil provides a valuable source of beta carotene and vitamin E."
On a recent NPR segment of Make Me Care, Rolf Skar, a senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace, reminds us that despite any potential benefits of palm oil, we should think twice before making it our oil of choice. Why?
According to Skar, clearing out the tropical forests of Indonesia to make palm oil is fueling "the fastest and the worst deforestation rate in the history of humankind."
The clearing and burning of forests for more and more palm oil facilities releases massive amounts of greenhouse gases. This has helped push Indonesia to become the world's number three emitter of greenhouse gases (the US and China are number one and two).
Skar also says that as much as 80 percent of the land-clearing in Indonesia is illegal. He states that this leads to shady production facilities and human rights abuses.
Orangutans and Sumatran white tigers are facing extinction due in part to palm oil production.
No one can make someone else care about something, but Skar sure did a good job convincing me.