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Some Updates! for your viewing and informing pleasure

Hi friends! So I know it’s been quite a while between posts, but I just wanted to give a bit of an update on the palm oil front, in terms of both globally and personally!

Cargill has responded to the allegations that they were buying illegally harvested palm oil, by saying that it was not the Australian branch of the company that was involved in the illegal activity.  I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sit well with me at all. “It wasn’t me, it was them who did it!!” Really? You can read more about the parts they have played in this issue here.

I’m yet to hear back from Macro Wholefoods about their corn chips, which is a little disappointing; I don’t know how good they will taste after about three months of sitting in my pantry :/

Personally, I’ve been able to steer clear of all the major palm oil ‘evils’; I was telling someone just yesterday that I hadn’t had an a Tim Tam or Mint Slice Biscuit for almost three months, and it was in that moment that I realized that however trivial it may sound in the grand scheme of world problems, that’s a pretty big deal for me! Yay me!

I also found this in the fridge yesterday.

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It really is the small things that make me really happy. My mum bought this rice bran spread, without any prompting from me (to be honest, I didn’t even know this existed. I don’t know what excites me more, the fact that there is a clear ‘no palm oil’ label on the front of this packaging, or the fact that mum made a conscious decision to buy a palm oil free product on her own accord! Either way, it’s a big win in my book, and it tastes pretty damn good on English muffins alongside my organic peanut butter!

And finally, I am sad to say that I will be ceasing updating this blog as of the 11th of October; my boyfriend and I are heading to Europe for a couple of months, and I want to be away from my computer as much as possible! I will keep all the information and past posts available, and if you would like to stay updated you can always follow me on twitter at @homey_activist. I will be blogging about these issues when I come back, but under a new project umbrella that I will be launching in the new year! I really really excited about this, it’s inspired partly by most on on Lily’s fabulous artworks! But more on that later, I’m still gathering ideas and mapping out layouts and things! If you would like to stay updated with that, you can follow me on twitter! *hint hint* ni It’s ok, I promise I won’t ask again 🙂

I’ll do a big farewell post closer to October, but I will say a quick thankyou I everyone who has read, followed and commented on this blog! Interacting with all of you like minded environmentally conscious souls has been wonderful, and strengthened my resolve against the issue of palm oil!

Ok I think that’s all! Have a wonderful day!

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Won’t Someone Please Give Us The Choice? Or At Least A Straight Answer

As much as I would like to carry on the positive theme of the previous post, I have some rather troubling news.

You may have head last week that Cargill, a major palm oil company and supplier to many large food manufacturers, admitted to purchasing a shipment of palm oil from Indonesian company PT Best in 2011.

What’s that got to do with the price of margarine, I hear you ask? Well, not too much, but it does have a large impact on the palm oil status of all the companies they supply.

Let’s break it down; PT Best Agro International Group owns a large number of palm oil plantations throughout Indonesia, and as a result has been involved in illegally clearing thousands of hectares of orangutan habitat. They were investigated extensively by the Environmental Investigation Agency, which found them to be violating many of Indonesia’s laws, by clearing and developing a 23,000 hectare concession of rainforest into a palm oil plantation.
Last week, Cargill admitted to buying at least one shipment of Palm Oil from this very company last year, and this has stirred up further speculation that this is not the only time they have purchased from PT Best, and it is possible they still do to this day!
They’ve also been accused of having connections within their palm oil supply chain to the destruction of the Tripa rainforest! Talk about Emperor Palatine levels of nastiness!

Cargill has previously commited to implementing ‘a 100% sustainable supply chain’ for the palm oil it purchases, yet this is clearly not being enforced, and is quite frankly the part of this fiasco that makes me particularly angry. When questioned about it’s connections to PT Best in an interview with Reuters UK, they staed that they will stop buying from the company if any ‘illegality is proven’.

Um, hello? If a 23 year old retail worker can have access to information and evidence of their ‘illegality’, surely they, a customer of the offending firm should be aware of this?

Regardless of whether this is a deliberate act of deception or a just ‘turn a blind eye’ attitude towards PT Best, the actions of Cargill are not only dragging their reputation as a company committed to environmental sustainability through the mud, but their also dragging all the companies they supply to along with it, companies like Unilever, who are the word’s largest palm oil buyer, and who have also committed to switching to 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.
The fact that companies are relying on the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil status, which we have already determined does not guarantee that they are doing the right thing, of other companies in their supply chain is quite frankly disturbing.

This incident with Cargill has made me increasingly uneasy about the whole palm oil industry, sustainable no; there are no easy answers, no black and white good or bad, and honestly I’m getting quite tired of all the smoke and mirrors. If anything, this is a perfect example of their needs to be not only a labelling system for all products that contain palm oil, but a proper set of checks and balances that are properly enforced across all members of the palm oil supply chain. Of course I understand that it’s not going to be so easy, but surely it would be easy enough to at least list palm oil as a separate ingredient on packaged foods?

I want the goddamn choice, and until it becomes properly available, it looks like I’m going to have to try to avoid as many foods that contain ‘vegetable oil’ as I can.

Sources:

Rainforest Action Network: Cargill Admits Buying Palm Oil from Illegally Cleared Orangutan Habitat, Chelsea Matthews

Environmental Investagtion Agency: Testing the Law

Reuters UK: Environment or profit: palm oil firm tests Indonesia