What makes cheap vegetable oil unaffordable

Look at this picture to see how the rainforest on the tropical island of Borneo a disappearing at a staggering rate as this picture from rainforestsos.com shows:


What might be the reason for this? If you have watched the recent BBC programme Red Ape: Saving the Orang Utan the chilling truth becomes very clear. Our cousins are losing their only home and with them, a multitude of other species are irrevocably lost.

The problem isn’t so much the logging companies on a hunt for valuable wood as has been the case from about the 1960s onwards. As the documentary explains very well, 1998 was the watershed moment for Indonesia as the country and consequently decisions that were made on how to exploit its valuable resources. In this, however, it’s not a question about its resources but actually destroying its abundance in biodiversity and wildlife for profit which is to be made through becoming the biggest producer and exporter of cheap palm oil.

Researching this had been a revelation to me also realising the changes that have happened to the country where I was born and grew up. The biggest problem however as you will find that we cannot escape palm oil in our present economy. It is practically ubiquitous and seemingly inescapable and therefore boycotting it is essentially almost futile.

Once again, however, one might ask what one can do. Obviously, once again, the individual has a very limited scope of action, but here are just a few points that might help.

  1. Get the Rainforest Foundation UK Palm Oil Guide. It provides a comprehensive list of sustainable companies and some of the products commonly sold in supermarkets containing palm oil. Amongst them are bread, peanut butter, soap, you name it… At least Meridian are now committed to not using palm oil in their products.
  2. Know what’s in there and read the labels. Palm oil comes in a multitude of pseudonyms such as “Etyl palmitate” and “Hydrated Palm Glycerides” or simply vegetable oil.
  3. Install an app called Buycott on your phone.
  4. Start a rethink on what kind of products you actually really need and what you can make yourself.
  5. As you know more start to be proactive and check labels, write to companies which are the ones who need to be urged and coerced into a commitment to zero deforestation.


Because these little guys are all orphans. If you want more information on how to support rescue centres etc., click here.

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3 thoughts on “What makes cheap vegetable oil unaffordable

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