It’s easy to see our food on the shelf without a second thought about its journey getting there. But we can’t ignore the damage that unsustainable food production is making, even if it is far from our plates.
It’s difficult to track every aspect of the food production and supply chain, even for a carrot grown just down the road. And being difficult makes it easy to ignore.
All too often we are distanced and disconnected from the origins of our food. This distance is harming the rainforest. One key culprit is palm oil production. In recent years its production has boomed as food companies find more and more uses for this cheap and versatile oil.
Palm plantations thrive in areas with high rainfall in tropical climates within 10° of the equator. Just like rainforest. This puts the two in direct competition with one another. A competition that palm oil is starting to win. The economic benefits of palm oil are being placed above the environmental, social and economic benefits of tropical rainforest.
Global demand means palm oil is now the most widely used oil in the world. It is found in 50% of all packaged products on the supermarket shelves. Vast swathes of rainforest are burned to grow it, destroying vital habitat and releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Consumer pressure and changing habits is the key that will make producers consider more sustainable practices. Check labels, ask questions, and look for RSPO certified palm oil, whose producers must adhere to strict guidelines.