Friday, June 21, 2013

Earth Friendly Foods Friday - Eco-Challenge

It seems like the list of  "don't eat this" and "boycott Company X" keeps getting exponentially larger as each week passes us by.  For example, this article I read this week on "10 brands you didn't know were owned by giant corporations."

So, just when you think you found a good, healthy, & sustainable product you find out that it is owned by a big-business corporation that you know does not do good environmentally or socially.  I know how overwhelmed so many of you must feel when this week it's another company or product we (sustainability & environmental activists) are telling you not to buy or eat.  How do I know you're feeling overwhelmed?  Because I feel the exact same way.  But I don't want this overwhelming feeling to become discouraging.  Absorb the information presented and simply do what you can if the cause is important to you.  

No one is perfect.  We can't expect everyone to become a vegan, or expect you to never consume one single product that it is harmful to the environment or harmful socially.  It is nearly impossible (in this day in age & in America) to avoid GMOs 100%, to not slip and consume meat that was raised UN-sustainably, to not consume some chemicals in the food we choose, etc.  Most us have full time jobs and busy lives, so we can't stay at home and cook everything from scratch so we know exactly what is going into our food.  And we all can't afford to shop at Whole Foods every week to buy the most sustainable products 100% of the time (me included).  

Tell yourself that "this is okay, I will do the best I can with the resources I have."  But never forget: educating yourself is the best resource you have.  After that, start with small steps in changing your food choices and focus on one or two goals per week (don't try and change too many things at once).  Also, as general rules of thumb for sustainable eating: try to cook as many meals yourself as possible and avoid processed foods.

There are so many important causes needing our support lately, especially in the realm of food sustainability.  So for this week's Earth Friendly Foods Friday, moving to the top of my list lately is the issue surrounding palm oil and orangutans.  

Palm Oil plantations are causing deforestation and as a result threatening the biodiversity of the rainforests that are being clear cut.  Nearly 90% of palm oil is grown in Indonesia and  Malaysia.  In fact, Indonesia now has the highest deforestation rate in the world any by the year 2020, 98% of Indonesia's ran forests are threatened to be destroyed.  Indonesia's rainforests are one of the earth's most biologically rich areas in the world.  

These rainforests are home to the orangutan, which is the closest human relative in the animal world.  Palm oil production is destroying the orangutan's habitat and they are now facing extinction.  Beyond that, once the clear cutting is complete the adults are killed and the babies are taken for the pet or entertainment trade.  Additionally, "In the deforestation process, orangutan's are often run over by machinery, beaten to death, buried alive, or set on fire," and worse, states 17-year old activist Thomas King on his website.  Absolutely heart breaking.  

Aside from orangutan's, palm oil production is simply unsustainable.   The plantations only last 20-50 years until the soil is completely stripped of it's nutrients.  The production is also causing pollution of rivers  and land erosion.  It is also known to be the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gases, due to the burning of remaining trees after the clear cut.  Palm Oil plantations are also harming indigenous communities in more ways than one.

So what products contain palm oil?  "Palm oil and it's derivatives are used in a ubiquitous array of packaged foods, including ice cream, cookies, crackers, chocolate products, cereals, breakfast bars, cake mixes, doughnuts, potato chips, instant noodles, frozen sweets and meals, baby formula, margarine, and dry and canned soups," according to the Rainforest Action Network factsheet on palm oil.  It can also be found in cosmetics and cleaning agents.  Be sure to always read food labels- it is the easiest way to identify ingredients you should be avoiding and a great start to educating yourself about trends with ingredients.

We have the power to stop this.  Supply and demand have so much power over the environment.  You can choose to vote for the kind of world you want by where you spend your dollars.  Or you can choose to ignore this.  Saving the orangutans starts with you, as a consumer.   "Think of the consequences next time you do your weekly shopping; the consequences not only for orangutan's and other animals, but for us as the human race ...for we cannot survive without the rainforest, either" (King, Thomas).

You also have the power to make even more of an impact by educating others on this topic, as most people do not know this is happening right now.

You can help spread the word by emailing friends & family this blog post, by sharing this blog posts and other information on this topic on Facebook & Twitter, by sharing the Pins below on Pinterest, etc.

Share these Pins on Pinterest:

You can also make an impact by asking your grocery store to stop stocking products that contain palm oil.  It is unlikely that they will pull their cookies and crackers from their shelves, but at the very least you will be educating their purchasing department on the serious implications of palm oil and that the consumers are starting to act.  Here is the a comment card you can send to them (made by the Rainforest Action Network).

Read More here:
Palm Oil Fact Sheet 
Palm Oil Grocery Store Cheat Sheet 
Orangutan Survival Information 
WWF Orangutan & Palm Oil Plantations 
Say No to Palm Oil
List of Palm Oil Products, by Type 

A sincere thank you for listing and reading this post, I know these things are not always easy to take in.

Back to the FUN stuff...what will you challenge yourself to do, or eat, for Earth Friendly Foods Friday

For my challenge activity, I am cooking up items by scratch today, without the use of palm oil or other dangerous additives and I am avoiding eating any meat.  I made Chia pudding yesterday (ingredients: coconut milk, raw chia seeds, raw turbinado sugar) and today is going to be my first attempt at making of of my favorites...roasted garlic hummus!  



  1. The smoke from burning forests in Indonesia is what's causing Beijing-like smog all the way in Singapore right now. If you walk away from the product, the incentive to grow it decreases. There are other good reasons to stay away from processed foods, anyway.

    Today for a moms' gathering: vegan wraps. Hummus, snap peas, shaved almonds wrapped in collard leaves.

  2. This is something I haven't paid much attention to until ... NOW. I pledge to go through my pantry and discontinue the purchase of anything with palm oil. I will also be spreading the news. Thanks, Kristen!

  3. CelloMom, thank you for the comments. I didn't realize the smoke from Indonesia is what contributed so much to the pollution in Beijing and Singapore. Here are two links my uncle just sent me on the topic after reading this blog post:



  4. Thank you Cherri, your actions and choices are making a WORLD of difference for orangutans, other animals, and humans by cutting palm oil out of your life. Thank you for BEING THE CHANGE!

  5. Energy bars, microwave pizza, holy moly the list is huge! Thanks for this super informative post - I had no idea!