We all know that Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate these wonderful creatures who brought us into this world and have never stopped looking after us, enhancing us and making us who we are today. My mum has become really passionate recently in eliminating the vast number of products that contain unsustainable palm oil from her home in her bid to do her part to stop the devastation to the rainforest habitat of Sumatran and Bornean Orangutans, which pushes them closer to extinction, the exploitation of the local people and land, not to mention the carbon emission impact. Since I was a kid, she has had on her bucket list to go to visit the Orangutans in Borneo, and it is sad that as I have gotten older, this dream has been slipping further away. With the yearly advertising push for us to ‘buy’ something ‘special’ for Mother’s Day, mum had expressed to me that what she really wants for Mother’s Day, what she truly wants, is for companies to change the way they produce, use and label palm oil in the vast number of products we consume in our daily lives.
In our western culture, we are so far removed from the sources of things we consume, how they are made and what they contain. I am sure that if consumers were to actually visit the farms, plantations, factories, see what goes on, speak to the people who work there, the majority of us wouldn’t think twice about being informed about the things we are consuming. I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t want to change the way palm oil is sourced if they visited these plantations in Indonesia and saw the devastation for themselves.
Palm oil is made from the African Oil Palm tree, and 85% of the world’s palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia as introduced unsustainable plantations that have cleared over 20 million hectares of natural forest. It is present in over half of all products that we find on supermarket shelves because it is cheap, versatile, high yielding and is currently widely produced. Current unsustainable production has seen 90% of the Orangutan’s habitat destroyed giving them a devastating 10 years before they are extinct.
However it is not all bad news. Current social pressure has seen changes to the industry with a number of countries pledging to and creating goals to have certified and 100% traceable, sustainable palm oil in all products sold, with Europe leading the way and countries like Australia, New Zealand and the US making moves to implement this in the next two years. As I live in a country where I do have the freedom of speech and am lucky enough to have choices in life, I feel it is our responsibility to take a stand and put pressure on companies to make a positive change.
This week I have trawled through online shopping lists of products that contain palm oil, who uses sustainable palm oil and who doesn’t, made a list of all the products that I consume and contacted those companies via email to let them know I am making a switch to products that do use 100% certified, sustainable palm oil and urging them to become leaders in their markets and pushing for that RSPO certification.
So what is the answer and what you you do? As you can imagine this is a complex issue and boycotting all products with unsustainable palm oil could do more harm than good. Be informed about the products you use and what they contain. Spend an afternoon (at your local coffee shop with your favourite hot drink) contacting these companies and telling them you want to see their products containing sustainable palm oil, replace your current products when they are finished with ones who do use RSPO palm oil – maybe even thank these companies for their stance on this issue. So far I have sent close to 50 emails to companies and the Australian Government, plus finding out about the alternative products I can purchase in the future.
I want to live a sustainable life, but in the western world I am limited to this by our social structure. I make choices where I can, however in order to do so fully, I need the help of the companies who supply us with our goods and services by providing me with correct labelling and choices. The way to do this is to have my voice heard about where I would like to see our world and consumption headed. I am not a mother myself, but I know that I need to make changes and inspire others to do the same if I ever want my children to live in a world that is different from the grim picture of the future we are faced with now. I am sure other mothers out there feel the same. Change needs to start NOW! (You might even be thinking to yourself that the production and use of palm oil is only one issue and there are so many, but getting informed about what’s in our products and where they come form is the first step to changing a lot of issues the world is faced with).
Not sure where to start? You can start by making your mum this delicious palm-oil free recipe and letting her eat it in bed! All ingredients contain no palm oil. If you are interested to read more, I have attached links after the recipe. Please feel free to email me also with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coconut French Toast with Dark Chocolate Hearts
Serves 1 (allow one egg per 1/2 cup coconut cream per person. To serve 4, 2-3 eggs with 2 cups coconut cream will work)
Dark Chocolate Hearts
100g (3.5oz) good quality 85% dark chocolate, melted (I have used Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa dark chocolate, totally palm oil free)
Coconut French Toast
1 egg (I never buy cage eggs, only ever certified free range eggs)
1/2 cup coconut cream (I have used Ayam coconut cream, totally palm oil free)
2-3 slices of bread (if unsure, grab a loaf from your local bakery and ask them directly)
Small hand full of fresh berries, raspberries and strawberries
Sprinkle of almond flakes
Ground cinnamon for dusting
To make the chocolate hearts; on a large sheet of baking paper, use a teaspoon with a small amount of melted chocolate on the tip as a pencil, and draw little misshapen hearts onto the paper. Reapply more chocolate and continue to draw if needed. Leave aside and allow the chocolate to set. Once completely set, carefully peel each heart from the baking paper and store in a cool place, in an air tight container until ready to use. (You can make these ahead of time).
To make the french toast; place the coconut cream and egg in a bowl, whisk until combined. Cover each side and each slice of bread with the coconut mixture, removing any excess, and cook in a non-stick frypan on medium heat. Allow to cook on each side for approximately 3 minutes, until the bread is lightly toasted, golden brown and has firmed up on the outside, but is soft on the inside. Remove from the pan.
Place fresh berries on top of the toast, sprinkle with almonds and dust with cinnamon. Serve with a dollop of coconut cream on the side and a few dark chocolate hearts.
I was not paid or promoted by any organisation to create this post. There is no motivation behind this other than to share a passion close to my mother’s heart on mother’s day and to inspires others to take action where they can.
Where did I get my information from?