Some bad news from Cameroon caught my eye today. One of the palm oil conglomerates, Herakles, has opted to quit the sustainability group they had previously agreed to participate in. Now, as they build their 70,000 hectare palm oil plantation in the heart of one of the most biodiverse rainforests in the world, they may go forward with clear cutting, decimating many highly valued conservation areas. This is something that won't only be bad for the plants, animals, and indigenous people, but for the long-term economy of the area. The plantation will most likely only produce for a short period of time, and then the soil will be depleted of nutrients, leaving behind nothing but rock. That's the way rainforests work, you see. Most of the nutrients are above the soil level in a healthy rainforest. That's why the plants are so huge and lush, and why there is so much biodiversity. Once all of that is clearcut, the thin soil level will only sustain a farm for a few years, and then that's all she wrote.
So who cares right? I mean it's some forest half way around the globe. It's not as if you have any say so in this. It's not as if you can do anything about it right? Wrong! Here's why I bring it up. Palm oil is in about 50% of what you buy at the grocery store. You will find it in everything from lipstick and shampoo to foods. So, taking a few extra minutes to check your products would be grand. Then, cut back or cut out palm oil from your life. Production for this agricultural commodity has increased by something like 485 % in the past decade. It's time we try moving that number in the other direction. Nobody can do that but the consumer. That's you. That's me. That's all of us. Each individual makes a difference. We really do!
And, in case you need a good incentive for taking the time and making the sacrifices to cut back on your palm oil use, remember those beautiful Orangutans. Production of palm oil has been linked to their near extinction. So, think of them next time you are wheeling your cart through the grocery, and I'll plan to do the same. Let's try making a difference, starting today!