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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.


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



Day Twenty Six

Good morning lovely people! I’m on my way to work, and I thought I would use the time usually wasted on my commute to write you a post on my mobile device! Hooray! Wish I had figured out this earlier.

Breakfast: Toast with my Regimental Blackberry and Rasberry Conserve and regular ol tea. I wonder if you can buy cases on condiments.

Lunch: Regimental Blackberry and Raspberry Conserve and Sanitarium Natural Peanut Butter Sandwich. That’s right, I just took PB & J to the next level! Mmmmm

Dinner: In other news, we won trivia this week! Yay! And one of our members got to take home the highly coveted Jesus lamp (if you know anything about Rochester Trivia, that’s a big deal). I decided to deviate from the Nacho vein this week, and tried the calamari instead; I’ll be honest, it wasn’t to the standards of my Nacho parma, but it was still pretty yummy! And of course there was beer involved, and even some red wine in celebration of our almost victory (we tied for first with two other teams, but I still think it’s worth mentioning).

Bake Off: Caramel Crowns vs Caramel Slice

Welcome to my second bake off! I’m sorry there haven’t been more of these over the month, but I promise that there will be many more to come! This week, I’ve decided to try and find an alternative to another beloved sweet treat, The Caramel Crown. It doesn’t seem that long ago, that I was living out of home, almost flat broke and standing at the register of my local IGA with one serving of mei goreng, a bag of peanuts and a packet of Caramel Crowns that I had chosen for my lunch. And dinner. I know, I know, I’m surprised I’m here at all.

Those days are all but gone, and yet I still can’t help but think, no, long for them if I’m ever in an IGA, or even in the biscuit isle of Coles (which I’m not allowing myself to visit anymore because it just makes me sad). So, in order to curb this craving, I went in search of a suitable replacement. And it didn’t take me long to find something I liked (and could cook!)!

This recipe for Caramel Slice comes from the lovely Humble Habit! Once you’ve finished reading this, and making your own caramel slice, you should go and check it out!

I’ve made Caramel Slice a number of times before, but I’ve always used crushed Marie Biscuits for the base. However, although delicious, they do contain palm oil, so I had to find another, more suitable base recipe! I love that this one uses desicated coconut as the crunchy element.
Also, this recipe is actually for salted caramel slice, but I decided to leave the salt out, so I could make a proper comparrison to the Caramel Crowns. If you would like to make the original with salt, you can check out the original recipe here.


1 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 desiccated coconut
125g butter melted
400g can sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp golden syrup (we didn’t have any golden syrup, so I used honey instead, which worked well, but I’d really like to try it again with the syrup)
60g butter melted.
200g good quality plain chocolate (I used Lindt 70% cocoa Dark Chocolate
To Make The Base
Preheat oven to 180 deg c. Line a 3 cm deep, 28x 18cm (base) lamington pan.
Combine all base ingredients in a bowl.
Mix well.
Press into prepared lamington pan.
Bake for 15 to 20 min, or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
To Make the Filling
Melt the butter slightly in a pan over a low heat for 2 minutes.
Add the condensed milk and golden syrup. whisk the mixture well till butter is thoroughly incorporated.
Cook for 8 minutes stirring constantly, until thickened and light golden in colour( never take your eyes off it, it will burn very easily. Mine turned out to be very light, but I think that’s because I used honey.)
Pour over the cooled base.
Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a microwavable bowl.
Microwave for 1 min 45 sec on high, or until fully melted. Leave to cool slightly, then pour over the caramel.
Refrigerate to set. Cut into squares to serve.
The verdict: They don’t look as pretty as the caramel crowns, but taste wise, this slice is pretty gosh darn good. And the best part is, I can cut as big a piece as I want, and the only thing it’s going harm is my hips and posterior! Winner!

Day Twenty Five

Hello Friends! Today I completed the second sweet treat in my replacing Arnotts biscuits with palm oil free alternatives! This week I’ve chosen …drumroll please… Caramel Slice! The full post will be up very soon, but until then, let me just say that they ain’t pretty, but they certainly make up for that taste wise!

Breakfast: Toast with my Regimental conserve, and Organic White Tea. They’re my new Sanatarium All Natural Peanut Butter

Lunch: Potato and Leek Soup. Today was a perfect day for soup, just as it was a perfect day for staying inside and organising my iTunes and catching up on blogging/ episodes of Girls.

Snacks: What I’ve very Humbly named Tegan’s Kick Ass Palm Oil Free Caramel Slice. Yeah.

Dinner: Pork Fritters and Potato Gems (or Tater Tots for all my American reader friends).

Day Twenty Four

Hello friends! Before I start on today’s diary, I want to give an honorable mention to the lovely Peter Tehan, the Commanding Officer of the Regimental Condiment Company, for leaving me such a lovely comment on my post about Leo’s, which featured their amazing Raspberry and Blackberry Conserve! I seriously cannot get enough of this stuff, it’s so gosh darn delicious. You should check out all the great things they’re doing over at their website, and see where you can get your hands on the fruits of their local labour!

Breakfast: I stayed at the boyfriends house last night, and thus, I was many kilometers away from my dear conserve. Oh cruel world! Why must you taunt me with what could have been?
Anyway, I decided to choose sleep over breakfast, which I think is fair, especially since I had to work on a Sunday!!

Lunch: It wasn’t all bad though, because after work, I got to meet up for coffee and a late lunch with dear Brogan and Corry, a friend of ours from New Zealand who we met whilst traveling in South America! It was great to see him again, and I’m very much looking forward to having some more adventures with him, Brogs, and his lovely girlfriend Gabs now that he’s living in Melbourne. Yay!
I met them at Cafe No. 5 on Degraves, a very cute and cozy nook of a cafe nestled in, well, lots more cafes! I was ravenous by this time, and demolished a plate of French Toast, complete with a side of bacon, all of which I smothered with maple syrup. Again, I feel as though I can justify this because I had to work on a Sunday.

Dinner: Roast Pork and Vegetables. I’ve said it once, and I’ll probably say it forever; no one makes a Sunday Roast quite like my mother.

Day Twenty Three and some more reflections.

Hello Friends. I would like to share with you some more reflections on this past month, now that it is drawing to a close; with work quieting down during the winter months, it has given me a lot of time to think and contemplate. Once again, if this isn’t your thing, please skip down until you see what I had for Breakfast. I bet you can guess what it is!

One of the many things this challenge has made me realise is that I am completely unaware of my own capabilities. The desire to live a cleaner, greener lifestyle has always been there, hiding in the darker corners of my brain, but I guess I’ve never really believed in myself enough to put them into practice. I guess I’m still holding onto a lot of fear; fear of what people will think, fear of what I might have to give up, and most of all fear that I might fail. I suppose I’m finding it harder to make the transition because I didn’t grow up around particularly eco centric people or an eco centric household. I don’t hold any of this against my family, not at all, I guess it’s just meant that I have to fend for myself in terms of gathering information and making my own changes; I’ve had to force the idea into the forefront of my mind.

I’ve been trying to do this for a good year now, and yet not of eco practices I’ve taken on have stuck. Finally, I know why! It’s because I was trying to take on too many things at once; I tried to cut out palm oil and all products that test on animals, to only by ethical cosmetics and fair trade coffee and clothes that don’t violate human rights or harm the environment. I know now that for me, becoming a fully fledged ethical consumer is going to take time if I want everything to stick, because I’m going to have to re learn all my old habits.

Giving up palm oil was difficult at first, but over the past couple of weeks it has become easier, so much so that I found the limit I thought I had reached could be stretched even further, given more patience and time.

From this, I guess you could say that I’ve formed my own little philosophy on become an ethical consumer; I sure do admire the people who can drop everything unethical just like that, but that’s not me. So this is what I believe: Don’t let the idea of not being able to do everything you want to scare you away from doing what you can. Spend some time at the edges of those limits you set yourself, and then see if you can push past them. You never know what you’re capable of, until you try.

Breakfast: Organic white tea with vanilla

Lunch: Hot Chocolate and a Raspberry Muffin. The line at the Thai Kiosk was too long for my half hour lunch break 😦

Dinner: Today was another of those ‘you have to do all this and be here and you only have this much time to do it’ days. Thus, I had to wolf down a simple meal of pasta and parmesan cheese whilst changing from work clothes to party clothes and packing more work clothes for tomorrow and doing my hair and finding my shoes and  *collapse*

Dessert: Lick Pier Alcoholic Ginger Beer (my most favourite drink) and assorted housewarming party snacks. Sadly, no chips for me, but they did have little Lindt Chocolate Squares, and some delicious homemade brownies. And I got to play with a kitten

Day Twenty


Hello friends! Today I am two thirds of my way through the my no palm oil challenge! Thankyou to everyone who has stuck with me this far, you guys are keeping me accountable! Who knows how quickly I might have given up (my will power is usually akin to the consistency of chocolate pudding….mmm pudding).

I have to say that I feel as though I’ve reached the plateau in terms of my cravings for palm oil products; I no longer think about, or yearn for them unprovoked, and when I do get a craving, I’ve already made sure that there is always something close at hand to distract me, something as equally delicious (or even more so) as the thing I am craving. I’ve learned that it’s not so much about eliminating the desire for certain foods, as it is about knowing how to deal with this cravings as they come, that makes giving up palm oil easier.

Breakfast: Tea

Lunch:Thai green curry; seriously, leftovers are the gift that just keeps on giving (until of course it goes off). I also had a bottle of Phoenix Organic Raspberry Fizz, which was amazing! If you don’t know about Phoenix already, theyre an organic beverafe company from New Zealand that specialises in making organic, ethically produced soft drinks. And man, are they delicious! I couldn’t go back to drinking Coke after I had their Organic Cola, and not just for ethical reasons!

Stirfry beef and vegetables, with rice.

Dessert: 97% fat free Coles Vanilla Icream. The Nestle Chocopolitan is still in fridge, just taunting me! In order to satiate the call, I treated myself to a bowl of this icecream instead, and although it’s not nearly as good taste wise, it filled the icecream hole inside me enough to make not being able to have the more delicious and yet unethical brand of icecream bareable.