The mainstream media has picked up the crisis of a small population of orangutans this week. Their habitat in Indonesia has been relentlessly brought to ruin by palm oil producers over several decades. According to RainforestPortal.org “The globally exceptional Tripa peat swamp rainforests of Aceh, Indonesia have been set illegally ablaze by the oil palm industry, threatening to massacre one of the largest and most dense natural populations of orangutans.”
It is only the crisis of the appalling suffering and imminent demise of this population of our close relatives that has brought attention to this perpetual issue forward this week. Pictures of near dead orangutans with faces pleading like our own gutted me.
But I’m not writing this to have us indulge in sorrow, though that may also be appropriate. I’m writing this because the cause of this suffering is the production of cheap palm oil… “cheap”, there is an interesting word to use for the destruction of untold natural capital (I feel another post coming on!)
The destruction is happening because we buy and consume palm oil, either directly or indirectly, every day. If we didn’t, the destruction would stop tomorrow. It is not easy to eliminate palm oil from one’s diet because it is used in most processed food because it is “cheap”. While reference to palm oil is disappearing from food labels as the public becomes aware of the environmental and, yes, health problems assoiciated with palm oil, the product is still there disguised as “vegetable oil”.
So in honour of earth hour, Birds and Beans cafe would like to emphasize that we offer absolutely no products that contain palm oil and as owners, David and I have committed to never purchasing products with palm oil in our personal lives (no more processed food). This hints at another future post (in fact, let’s make it a category) in which we’ll discuss our contention that the making of conscious food choices is the most important thing we can do for the planet — and we start now.
If earth hour teaches us anything, it must be that our cumulative actions can have impact. Join us in reducing demand for palm oil and save the last remaining habitat for the orangutans.