My Breakup with Palm Oil

AHHHHHHHHR! I just bathed my face in Orangutan blood!!!

I get how OUT THERE and fanatical that sounds! But I’m vexed because on a not very deep level, its kinda TRUE!

Here’s how it works, I’m learning, I few months ago, I had not a clue, but it turns out, PALM OIL IS SNEAKY AND IS IN SO. MUCH. STUFF.

 Palm oil is prolific, cheap to produce, and is actually not unhealthy for you.

It grows in tropical climates. MOST, if not ALL, palm oil is grown on rainforest land that was deforested for palm oil plantations.

When you slash and burn rainforests, not only does it hurt nice cute little endangered animals like orangutans, but it takes out the very mechanism our planet has to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. It’s a double-header for global warming: Rapidly release carbon to the atmosphere whilst removing the very mechanism the planet has to help itself compensate against carbon in the atmosphere.

Destroying of these forests is often done illegally, as the result of corrupt governments and capitalizing companies.

And then people who may or may not know any better consume it worldwide.

If my explanation seems simple or confuses you, a few sensational documentaries about global warming discuss how the growth of palm oil results in its being a major contributor to global warming: Before the Flood and in episodes of Years of Living Dangerously. More charming and attractive actors explain what I am trying to with much better success.

Being cheap and ubiquitous, palm oil is in seemingly everything from food to household and personal care products. At first I thought giving up palm oil would be easy. I thought it was only in cheap processed and fast foods. No problem, I thought, I don’t eat too much of that anyway. I shop at Whole-Paycheck, they don’t allow preservatives, unnatural food color and hydrogenated fats, so surely Palm oil was off-limits. Wrong. I buy fancy-pants beauty care products in mostly glass and recyclable packaging. Beauty Counter has over 1,000 products on their “Never” list of products they “never” use. Surely, I thought incorrectly, that Palm Oil would be one of them. Wrong.


I was at an even crunchier grocery store, about to fill up a glass bottle with Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap. I recalled the name of a more commercial dish soap brand, Palmolive. Palm-olive. Palm. Olive.

The wheels in my brain were turning and I nearly set off the fire sprinklers.

Surely my “green” substitute wouldn’t have palm oil in it?


And many other bulk items on my list did as well.

And that cute little girl scout out hocking cookies in a tradition that has spanned generations with the promise of a teaching our youth valuable lessons worthy of awarding badges? Full of palm oil, as well as other unhealthy ingredients such as hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.

I’m getting tougher on palm oil and the companies that use it in its products. I’m conducting a palm oil “audit” of the products I use and consume, and will need to find alternatives for them or simply do without. I’m letting companies know that I absolutely do not support the use of palm oil and will plan to spend my money on products without.

Take a look at your favorite products and foods as well! I wonder where you can find palm oil lurking next?


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