This post was created in paid partnership with New Hope Network and Daabon.
Sustainable, eco-friendly, responsibly sourced, all-natural. All of these terms have been incredibly buzz-worthy lately when it comes to marketing around natural products, but what exactly do they mean and how do you know that the terminology listed on your products is based in fact and practice? My answer- transparency! In our world of a constantly churning news cycle it is so easy to get lost in the shock and awe of catchy headlines and emotionally charged photographs, that we tend to shy away from doing our own research and that can lead to an unsubstantiated bias. I am most definitely guilty of doing just that- one product in particular for me was palm oil.
When I first became aware of the issues around palm oil, I jumped to the ‘all palm oil is bad and is affecting the orangutans in Borneo’ conclusion that so many of us did. I saw the sad pictures of baby monkeys and bare earth and my heart broke, so I stopped there. I started to phase palm out of my shopping lists and it wasn’t until then that I realized how omnipresent the oil is. From food to bath and body care, palm oil is everywhere! I didn’t stop to think why that might be the case, until I realized that it was in one of my favorite nut butter brands. This particular brand is known for its great products, sourcing, and values from sustainability to simplified supply chains so I was rather shocked. I didn’t understand why a company that I trusted would use a product that in my not-so well informed mind that wasn’t good for the planet.
Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil
So I did a little digging. This particular brand was part of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm) which consists of about 20% of the palm oil industry. So what does that mean? According the RSPO website:
The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions.
In lay terms? Palm oil can be grown, harvested, and used in a sustainable fashion that benefits all parties involved, and the earth! The devastation in Southeast Asia can absolutely be avoided and an incredible number of people from everywhere from social action groups in corporations to non-profit foundations are getting involved. One of the major companies that is shepherding in the ‘Future of Palm’ is Daabon. Based in Colombia, Daabon’s whole corporate mission is a sustainable future. Ranked number one worldwide by the London Zoological Society’s SPOTT tool (Sustainable Palm Oil Transparency Toolkit) in RSPO, they are leading the industry and are a beacon of hope for both environmental advocates and peanut butter consumers alike.
Why Palm Oil?
So we know that activists and companies with ethical values are stepping up to the plate to rewrite the future of palm oil, but if there had been such a large controversy, why take the time, resources, and social currency to revamp the industry? Shouldn’t we just switch to another crop? To that I say absolutely not. Palm oil is everywhere for a reason, and it isn’t just because it is a less expensive option than some of the other oils out there.
It is Efficient.
Palm oil has an incredible yield per acre. Depending on the other oils you’re looking at, palm oil is four to ten times more efficient than soybean, sunflower, and canola oils. A more efficient crop means less land needed and less space appropriated from wildlife!
It Requires Less Fertilizer, Energy, and Pesticides
One of palm’s more common replacements is soybean oil. Unfortunately, soybean oil aside from being less efficient, also requires six times more energy to produce, fourteen times more pesticides, and seven times more nitrogen.
It is Versatile
Palm oil has a neutral taste, which is why it is perfect in my favorite nut butter, and can be used in everything from baked goods to body care. It is also a natural preservative, taking the place of a number of artificial chemicals in your natural products! On top of this it is affordable!
It Supports Local Economy
The palm industry supports over four and a half million jobs! Supporting the sustainable palm industry keeps these farmers and their families in work, and this work goes on for generations! The Daabon company itself is still family owned, has been the leader in South American RSPO since 2004, and was started in 1914. That is quite the legacy.
It Has Health Benefits Galore!
Sustainability and versatility are great, but why choose palm oil? It is chock full of great vitamins and compounds that support a healthy lifestyle. From vitamins A, D, E, and K to carotenoids and CoQ10- this little fruit packs a heavy punch on the health front!
Palm Oil Certified
So, we’ve done our research, and found that palm oil can be sustainable, is efficient, and is incredibly versatile, but how do we determine which products and palm oil sources to support? Earlier I mentioned that buzzwords can be confusing and misleading, but certifications are not. Four of the most important certifications to look for are Fair Trade Certified, USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and the RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil denotation.
Each of these different certifications specializes in a different part of the palm oil supply chain. The USDA Organic certification controls aspects like pesticides and soil fertility, Fair Trade supports fair wages and empowers producers, The Rainforest Alliance focuses on worker’s rights and protecting natural resources, and the RSPO is specific to the sustainability initiatives of palm oil! Looking for these certifications allows you to make sure that the products you are purchasing is in line with ethical business and farming practices!
Palm Oil Possibilities
This whole experience of shock to understanding reminded me how important it is to do your own research and form your own conclusions when it comes which companies and products you support. Had I not looked into the sourcing of the palm oil in my favorite nut butter brand I may still boycotting an industry about which I had only a sliver of knowledge.
So I’d love to know- what are some causes that you are passionate about that you dove deep into the research to come to your own conclusions? Palm oil is just the start for me, so I’m looking forward to doing lots more research! Be sure to check out The Future of Palm for a great, interactive experience with Daabon and palm oil!
This post was sponsored by New Hope Network and Daabon. All opinions are my own.
The Future of Palm is a great source to learn more about sustainable palm!