What is Palm Oil?
Palm Oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees. There are two kinds of oil that can be produced: crude palm oil comes from squeezing the fruit and palm oil kernel oil, which comes from crushing the kernel in the middle of the fruit. Oil palm trees are native to Africa but were introduced to South-East Asia as an ornamental tree crop.
Palm Oil is in nearly everything. It is in almost all packaged goods, from chocolate to deodorant to makeup. It is also used in animal feed and as a biofuel in many parts of the world.
Palm oil is very versatile and has many different properties , which makes it useful and widely used. It is odorless and colorless, so it does not alter taste or smell of foods. In African and Asian cultures, it is used for cooking.
Why is it a problem?
Unfortunately, harvesting of palm oil has been a big factor in deforestation, destroying habitats of already endangered species like orangutans, pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, okapis and Sumatran rhinos. It is also associated with the issues of exploitation of workers and child labor.
What can we do?
One solution we can take part in is purchasing palm oil that has been produced more sustainably. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo had made it easy for consumers to determine which products are made with sustainably sourced palm oil. Download their “Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping” application. This app allows you to scan bar codes and search products that are made with sustainable palm oil.