What You Might Not Know About Your Cookies! (Eat At Your Own Risk)

November 3rd, 2008

Did you know, when you eat cookies, that you are, more than likely, eating palm oil? No? You probably didn’t. Most people don’t, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Unfortunately, palm oil is bad news – both for you and for orangutans all the way over in Indonesia. It harms your health, the animals, and the environment, all at the same time.

According to many reports, orangutans are ‘dying for cookies,’ and not in the way sugar-starved dieters do. They’re literally dying because the palm oil plantations that are needed to make cookies, biofuel and other products that contain the oil are destroying the Indonesia and other areas that the orangutans call home. Crackers, cereals, pastries, and microwave popcorn are all guilty, as are companies like Oreo, Pepperidge Farm, Keebler, Mrs. Fields and many others.

One of the sneaky ways that palm oil shows up in foods is by making you feel better in other ways. You see your favorite snack food there on the shelf. In big, bold letters it proclaims that it now has 0 grams of trans fat! You feel better about eating it, but have you ever looked to see what else might have changed? If the trans fat went away, what else moved in to take its place? Palm oil, which is saturated fat, which is basically just as bad for you, especially in large amounts.

About sixty percent of the palm oil in the world is produced by Malaysia. This is important, because Malaysia doesn’t like the United States telling people that palm oil is bad for them. The country doesn’t want it listed as a saturated fat anymore. They think it’s being ‘lumped in’ with other oils that are worse to eat and being unfairly treated, mostly by the soybean growers.

While palm oil may have its place in some foods and other items, the majority of it is only there because of the push to remove unhealthy trans fat from many staples of the average American diet. However, since palm oil is actually not really any healthier, there is nothing being gained by people who eat it and everything being lost by the animals and plants that formerly lived where clearing is taking place to build palm oil processing and harvesting facilities.

A lot of orangutans are feeling the pain of the way that industry is changing and the demands that are being placed on the individuals who must provide palm oil and other items for human needs. There are Websites where people can donate to the cause of these poor animals and where they can stay updated on the continued efforts to ensure that no more orangutans are harmed and there is no further destruction of the environment.

Palm oil is found in most margarine, shortening, potato chips, cooking oil, soups, sauces, crackers, baked goods, and confectionery products as well as biofuel, lubricants, detergents, soaps, and cosmetics including lipstick, makeup remover, body lotion, and sun cream. Most people don’t realize how much palm oil they use or ingest over the course of their lifetimes and how unhealthy it is for all involved. There are some places in the world where elephants are being used for slave labor on palm oil plantations. If they are not needed for that, they are simply killed because they are in the way of progress. By 2020, it is believed that the need for palm oil will double and that means that 1,160 square miles of new crops will have to be planted – and land will have to be cleared and habitats destroyed to do this.

So many rainforests are being destroyed, and the chief reason for that is economics. People want the items that palm oil is used in and for, so there is a strong market for the substance. This desire to make money is clearly going to supersede any concerns that these companies have about the environment or the people who purchase their products.

Sources:
http://www.cspinet.org/palmoilreport/PalmOilReport.pdf
http://www.cspinet.org/palm/
http://www.healthcastle.com/palm-oil-trans-fat-free-foods.shtml
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9B0DE7DB113CF93AA25753C1A961948260
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/01/palm_oil_a_rain.php
http://www.redape.org
http://ethicsandanimals.com/2007/11/13/palm-oil-unhealthy-for-you-deadly-for-asian-elephants.aspx
http://news.mongabay.com/2006/0425-oil_palm.html