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Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Replacements

Sadly, this isn’t post about the fabulously bad sports movie starring Keanu Reeves. But it does involve chocolate! Hooray!

Today marks the last day that I am allowed to eat anything that may contain unsustainable palm oil!

Much like the hurricane supply runs of old, I headed up to my local supermarket this morning in order to stock up on some much needed and delicious supplies that will keep me from being tempted to raid the pantry searching for snacks to devour.

Here is what I found!

Sanatarium Natural Peanut Butter Smooth ($3.05)

Seeing as I can no longer have Kraft Peanut Butter on my toast, but not wanting to give it up entirely, I opted for the Sanitarium brand of Smooth Peanut Butter, which is actually in the health food section, not with the other spreads. It’s made with peanuts….and that’s it! Seriously, that’s all it says under ingredients; Freshly Roasted Peanuts (%100)
Although it’s a little runny compared to other Peanut Butters (I may have to keep one in the fridge), it’s got this great, real peanut taste, that reminds me of the Peanut Butter mum used to buy from the chemist, where you could actually grind the peanuts yourself and watch them turn into a paste. Yumm. I’ve already three Salada’s smothered with this (they are also Palm Oil Free! )

Ocean Spray Craisins ($3.89)

A good friend of mine introduced me to these beauties just recently, and I’ve very quickly become addicted. I’m actually eating them now, as I’m typing this. Craisins, as the clever branding suggests, are just dried cranberries, or cranberry raisins. The only two ingredients listed are cranberries, and sugar, without any form of oil in sight! And they’re as addictive as M&Ms; you know that thing where you unconsciously keep reaching into the bag, until you realise you’ve eaten a whole packet? You can do that with Craisins too! expect this time, you wont be hurting the environment!

Snappy Soy Crisps ($3.49)

Soy crisps are a no brainer for me, I’ve been eating these since I was a little kid. Snappy Soy crisps are on my list of palm oil free products, and thus make the perfect replacement for all the different chip brands that I’m not allowed to have. Yummy!

Green and Blacks Organic Milk Chocolate ($3.99)

I could have bought a big block of Cadbury Dairy Milk, which is also Palm Oil Free, but instead I decided to deviate and treat myself to a block of Green and Black’s. Just glancing at the ingredients listing, I noticed the word Organic pop up at least 5 times, and no trace of Vegetable Oil. Almost everything in this is organic, hence the rather hefty price tag ($4 for a 100g block), but I feel that having less of a better quality, more ethical bar a chocolate is better in the long run for everyone involved, including myself. I can’t wait to crack this open tonight while catching up on Mad Men!


These palm oil free snacks came to a total of $14.42. With the exception of the chocolate, I would be hard pressed to find similar, unethical snacks much cheaper than these, with the exceptions of those products on special. None of these products were on special, and yet I noticed as soon as I walked into the supermarket that Shapes, which are made by our not so good friends at Arnott’s, were on special for $2 a box. Had I not been partaking in this lifestyle change, I would have gone for them.
I know that the big chains like Coles and Woolworths choose popular products to put on special in order to encourage people to buy more, more more! But the way I see it, spending a couple of extra dollars on food that I don’t even need, like chocolate and crisps and dried fruit, and perhaps even eating a little less of them, seems a small price to pay to keep my consumer conscience relatively clear.

Now I’m off to eat the rest of my Craisins and watch Mad Men. Are there any replacement snacks that you’ve found that you would recommend? I would love to try them!


Pantry Raid! The First Assault

The Unusual Suspects

In order to properly weed out the palm oil from my diet, I took to the pantry this week, in search of the elusive palm oil. Because I’m still living at home and thus do not control what is bought at the weekly supermarket shop, I asked my dear mother why she bought the products that she did. After some confusion and wariness to my intentions (I had in past asked her to stop buying Nestle products, to no avail), she came up with two reasons.

I know that I like them
They were cheap/on special.

These are both very reasonable responses, and I’d imagine also very common ones. It is clear that most supermarket shoppers love a bargain, myself included, and both supermarket chains have picked up on that, offering a plethora of special deals on popular products every week, not so much to please us as to make sure they’re outdoing each other.

With this in mind, I pulled out all the products that a) had made it onto my list of products containing crude unsustainable palm oil, and b) had vegetable oil listed in the ingredients.
Here’s what I found!

Coles Corn chips

Status: Banned
I love my corn chips. Nachos are one of my favourite foods. Give me some salsa or some avocado dip and I could go through this entire packet in one afternoon. But before I do,  let’s have a look at the ingredients.


Well done Coles, you’ve made it super obvious that there’s palm oil in this one! Palmoelin! It’s Palm Oil with a few extra letters!

Sorry Coles brand Corn Chips, it’s been swell, but now we must part.

Greens – Sticky Date Sponge Pudding.

Status: Unknown
Yum! But the ingredients listing says

So…is it palm oil, or not?!
I searched around on the internet, but could find no straight answers, so I have decided to write a letter to Greens, asking it to tell it to me straight: are you using palm oil, and is that palm oil sustainable. Until then, no sticky date pudding for me, at least not from this packet. Damn.

 Kraft Peanut Butter

Vegetable Oils
Status: Banned.
I love my Peanut Butter, yet this is not a heavy blow as I first thought, because both Dick Smith and Sanitarium have provided Palm Oil free alternatives. Sorry Kraft, you’ll have to clean up your act to steal my heart away from these guys.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese (?)
Status: Banned
Now this is a difficult one. I love cream cheese, especially Philadelphia cream cheese. It stood out as a big no no on various lists that I cross referenced ,and this is what the ingredients read

Locust Bean Gum (what is that?)
Starter Culture
35% Milk Solids

Nothing. Not even a Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye. Is it in the Starter Culture? The Milk Solids? The Locust Bean Gum? What is Locust Bean Gum, anyway? And does this mean that there’s a whole bunch of foods in my pantry that I’ve missed completely because it’s so unclear as to what is actually in them?
Another perfect example for legislative change, I think. Looks like I’ll be writing another email.


Vegetable Oil
Status: Allowed: Not Palm Oil

Hooray! This is the first one that has been confirmed not to contain palm oil at all! Too bad I can’t put Philly on them anymore, though.

Rice Puffs

Vegetable Oil
Status: Unknown
I had one of these the other day, and I’m really not a fan. However, I’m still going to investigate as to where this vegetable oil is coming from.

Be Natural Trail Bars

Vegetable Oil
Status: Unknown
Although Be Natural Cereals contain no palm oil at all, nothing is said about their trail bars.

It’s great to see that Be Natural are getting involved with environmental organisations like Landcare, I just hope that they come back clean on the palm oil front too.

Woothworths Select Choc Honeycomb Hard Tops

Vegetable Oils
Status: Allowed

It’s almost as good as Ice Magic! Although Coles brands have been rejected for their use of Palm Oil, their main competitors, Woolworths, are choosing to back CSPO! Hooray! I know whose side I’ll be on for the supermarket war.

Damora Rice Crackers: Seaweed (These were eaten before I could get a photo)
Vegetable Oil
Status: Allowed.

Fantastic Rice Crackers: Original Flavour

Vegetable Oil
Status: Allowed

Trident Rice Crackers: Plain
Vegetable Oil
Status: Banned

I thought it quite hilarious that we have three different brands of rice crackers in our pantry. At least I can eat two of them. Now to find some palm oil free dip…

The Pancake Parlour: Buttermilk Pancake Mix

Vegetable Oil
Status: Unknown
This is a particularly sad one for me, as I am yet to find a supermarket pancake mix that is as good as this. Fingers crossed that the results come back positive.

Praise Caesar Salad Croutons

Vegetable Oil
Status: Allowed (CSPO)
Excellent! Although croutons are not essential to my diet, I do quite enjoy them and look forward to continuing to do so when I don’t have time to make my own!

Continental Cup A Soup
Status: Allowed! Although I much prefer real soup.

Classic Cream of Chicken
Creamer (Vegetable Oil)
Beverage Whitener (palm oil)
Lotsa Noodles Cream of Chicken
Creamer (Vegetable Oil)

What on earth is beverage whitener? Although I do enjoy a cup a soup from time to time, nothing beats real and homemade!

Mighty Soft: Thick and Fruity Café Style Raisin Toast

Vegetable Oil

Status: Unknown
Not sure about this one, could not find any straight answers as to whether Mighty Soft uses palm oil in the breads. Another email to my long list.

Pringles: Original

Vegetable Oil
Status: Allowed (CSPO)

Pringles! I love Pringles. Not only are the addictively delicious, they’re also completely vegan! Who would have known?
Pringles are owned by Procter and Gamble, and I was super happy to find they fell into the ‘Switching to CSPO’ category. Hooray! The Pringles can stay.

Arnott’s Caramel Crowns

Vegetable Oil
Status: Banned

Another delicious Arnott’s sweet treat that I must bid a hopefully temporary farewell.


And finally.

Arnotts Mint Slice

Vegetable Oil
Status: Banned
Goodnight, sweet prince.

This is just a snap shot of what is coming and going through our pantry each week; who knows what kinds of tasty treats might arrive next? It’s made me realise that not only will I have to stop buying these products myself; I will also have to keep myself from being tempted to eat these kinds of things when I open the pantry.

Stay tuned! In my next post, I’ll be writing about some of the products I found to replace these. I don’t want to give anything away, but there will be baking involved! Hooray!

A Rose By Any Other Name…

would smell as dodgy. One of the biggest challenges I will have to face in my quest to give up unsustainable palm oil, is figuring out which products contain it. The fact that there is no legislation forcing companies to label palm oil as a separate ingredient means that they can very easily get away with providing very ambiguous listings such as ‘Vegetable Oils and Fats’, which could be anything, really, or complex chemical names that are harder to decipher than Egyptian hieroglyphics. Either way, this skirting around the subject makes it almost impossible to know for sure whether or not you are buying the right products, and consequently feeds the idea that taking this kind of stand is all too hard.

Here are some of the many names palm oil could be listed, supplied again by SNTPO

-Vegetable Oil
-Vegetable Fat
-Sodium Laureth Sulfate (in almost everything that foams)
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
-Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
-Palm Kernel
-Palm Oil Kernel
-Palm Fruit Oil
-Glyceryl Stearate
-Stearic Acid
-Elaeis Guineensis
-Palmitic Acid
-Palm Stearine
-Palmitoyl oxostearamide
-Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3
-Steareth -2
-Steareth -20
-Sodium Kernelate
-Sodium Palm Kernelate
-Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
-Hyrated Palm Glycerides
-Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye
-Cetyl Palmitate
-Octyl Palmitate
-Cetyl Alcohol
-Palmityl Alchohol

As an ex first year chemistry student, I don’t really have a problem with ingredients being listed in their scientific forms, seeing as most of the particularly scary looking ones (anyone care for some Palmitoyl oxostearamide?) are found not in foods but in body products, cosmetics and cleaning products. However, I do have a problem with them being used to confuse consumers. And I think I have the right to know what I’m putting in my mouth, or on my skin, or using to cover up my zits.

This is the reason why we need to change the legislation, to give people a fighting chance to choose whether or not they want to be buying products that use unsustainable palm oil, and contributing to the consequences. Even if we put aside the arguments as to why it should be boycotted by the consumer public, the bottom line is simple, and hardly unreasonable; we all have the right to choose what we buy, regardless of which side of the fence you stand on.  These rights should be honoured by the government.

I’ve put this list up, along with lists of some products that have been confirmed to contain palm oil, on the ‘Product Lists’ Page. You might be shocked at how many of your favourite treats or guilty pleasures have made the cut.

How my addiction to Arnott’s could be destroying the planet.

How my addiction to Arnott’s could be destroying the planet.

And other reasons I’m feeling guilty about gorging on Tim Tams

I’m sure a lot of you have been in this situation before; you open the cupboard, looking for that healthy afternoon snack to go with your cup of tea, only to find a full packet of Tim Tams just sitting there. You don’t know how they got there;  they could be your mother’s, your sister’s, or your housemates. They haven’t even been opened yet.
You look over your shoulder, checking to see whether the owner of said Tim Tams is around, before picking up the packet. There’s no sign of any note, saying ‘Please Do Not Eat! These are for my How To Host A Murder Party.’ They must be meant for everyone.
And before you know it, you’re two thirds through the packet, and you’re feeling sick from the gorging and the shame. You wipe the chocolate from your lips, and shake the crumbs off your jacket before heading out to Woolworths for a replacement packet. No one will ever know.

We all have our vices. Yours might be Tim Tams, or Royals, Caramel Crowns, or Iced VoVos. Or it might not even be chocolate biscuit related. Mine is Arnott’s Mint Slice.

Until recently, the only regret I felt about doing something like this with a packet of Mint Slice was for the icky feeling in my gut from consuming all that chocolate, and the shame of having to explain where the all but two remaining biscuits have got to. I did not realise that there are ethical issues tied to popular consumer brands, such as Arnott’s, that are much bigger than me.

Oh, Tim Tam’s, why do you tease me so?

The issue that stood out the most for me, however, was the rampant use of unsustainable palm oil in many pre-packaged supermarket products, many of which I had been eating since I could independently shovel food into my mouth. The thought of how many countless animals, including flagship species such as the Orangutan and Sumatran Tiger, die each DAY because of my addiction to chocolate biscuits has added another even more sever regret to my list.

So from the 1st the 31st of June, I’m giving up all products that I either know, or suspect have unsustainably harvested palm oil in them, in protest of the devastating deforestation of South East Asian rainforests and its consequential impacts on biodiversity. I will be writing about my experiences, what I learn and how I cope along the way, to share with you, dear reader, and to prove that you don’t have to stop shaving, showering or convert your wardrobe to solely hemp based garments to join the ranks of the eco warrior (although if you have opted for this kind of approach already, I whole heartedly salute you). As much as I would like to, I cannot physically defend my dear orang-utan friends (an animal that I am often compared to because of the colour of my hair), but like nearly every opinionated twenty something, I have a blog, and the determination to see this through to the end. And hopefully beyond…

Don’t give me that face