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How is Palm Oil like an Egg...?

Cal Petrusma

Sounds like the start of a silly joke... but it's not. Let me explain.

Eggs are great. They can be used for sweet dishes & savoury ones; breakfast, lunch, & dinner. They can be eaten by most people, the very young & the very old. They're packed with protein, vitamins & minerals. Just think of all the foods that use eggs in the ingredient list...quiche, cake, pavlova, schnitzel... to name a few.

Palm Oil is also a great product. (We're just looking at the product at the moment, we'll get to how it's grown in a minute). It grows in areas that have few, if any other, cash crops so it provides essential income for some of the world's poorest countries; labour costs are low in these countries; it's solid at room temperature making it easy to transport; it's colourless when melted, it doesn't have a strong smell or taste; it can be used to make bio-fuel;  in soap it's used to make a gently cleansing, harder bar that will last longer in the shower. Also, the low cost of production means a lower cost of the final product. However, one of the best things about Palm trees is the amount of oil they produce. They use up to ten (10) times less space than other oil producing plants. You would need ten acres of Sunflowers to produce the same amount of oil from just one acre of Palm trees!

The problem with eggs is that to keep the costs down the chickens are often kept in horrible conditions, tightly packed in small cages unable to move, forced to lay as many eggs as possible in as short a time as possible.

The problem with Palm Oil is that the attributes that make it such as great product are the same attributes that make it prone to exploitation. To keep the costs down & to increase production to meet an ever-growing demand, unscrupulous people have been cutting down rain forests, injuring, killing, & making homeless the local wildlife - orang-utans specifically.

So when we starting hearing about the terrible treatment of the orang-utans many people called for a total ban on all Palm Oil.

When we started hearing about the terrible treatment of chickens many people called for a total ban on all eggs......Wait a we didn't!

What we did was to find a humane & ecological alternative to cage eggs...Free Range!

Wild & Free

Wild & Free

There is a humane & ecological alternative for Palm Oil as well - it's called Sustainable. Following the principles of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil begun by the World Wildlife Federation, many producers are growing Palm Oil that does not harm the rain forest or the indigenous wildlife. Those who grow Sustainable Palm Oil are often small producers, farmers who have had their land for generations; they do not cut down any forests, nor encroach on the local wildlife; they treat their land with care & respect; and they pay their workers a liveable wage.

A huge problem with calling for a ban on all palm oil is that these producers will be the first to suffer, as their palm oil is more expensive than those who are causing the problem. If the farmers can't make a living by growing sustainable palm oil they will have to try something else to feed their families, possibly a different type of oil which will take up more space!

There are alternatives to Palm Oil that do the same job in soap - Tallow (fat from cows), or Lard (fat from pigs), but then the soaps wouldn't be Vegetarian & one of the biggest causes of deforestation around the globe comes from clearing more land for animal husbandry. The other option is Cocoa Butter. This is way more expensive than Sustainable Palm Oil, plus approximately 70-80% of the world's Cocoa crop is harvested using slaves, many of them children. (Yes, slavery still exists & there are more slaves in the world than ever before, but that is a subject for another time).

Yes, I do use Sustainable Palm Oil in some of my soaps. I have some soaps without Palm Oil because there are lots of lovely oils out there to play with! I donate money every month to the WWF specifically earmarked to help the Orang-utans of Borneo & Sumatran Tigers. I buy Fair Trade Cocoa Butter & Chocolate.

I also used to buy Free Range Eggs until I got my own super-spoilt chickens! :-D

More information can be found on these websites:


Bramble Berry:

The Star News: