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Animal Extinction- A Side-Effect of Palm Oil

Sometimes a few different events lead up to an article and the first started with a visit my family took to the Seattle Zoo in November. It was sad to see animals confined within the zoo but my kids had never seen many of the animals up close and they did enjoy the experience. In particular the gorillas and orangutangs because you could really see their human-like behavior and emotions up close. Even the elephants and penguins did not elicit the reaction that my children had with the primates. We spent hours with the orangutangs watching them, making eye contact, apologizing through the glass, my son showed videos on my phone (of the outside world), and we all felt a connection. I didn’t really know what I was apologizing for that day at the zoo until tonight when I started to research Palm Oil. Now I know why I’m apologizing…and after having such a connection I can’t not share what I’ve learned.

Another dot that connected tonight was my confusion with cooking oils and my journey to eat and prepare real food in 2013. All of the different types of sugars and oils have me really confused. I’ve been trying hard to avoid any canola oils because of GMO concerns, and although palm oil is non-GMO I am adding this ingredient to my personal ban list. It is usually listed as vegetable oil (click here to find the top 30 ways it’s listed in ingredient lists) and commonly found in margarine, cereals, packaged, sweets and baked goods, to soaps, washing powders and cosmetics. Similar to when I watched the W5 undercover investigation on large scale factory pig farming in Canada, there are certain things that I can no longer knowingly consume….factory farmed pork is one and now palm oil is the second.  I’m getting to why in a minute…I’m not finished connecting the dots. =)

The next is really a no brainer with trying to eat real food. Tougher than it sounds but really trying to only eat fresh or home prepared meals. It is super rewarding as a mother but is taking a lot of time. You want to immediately improve your family and children’s health? Stop buying any food that is in a package. Really. Think of the granola bars, fake fruit snacks, crackers, cereals, etc. the list goes on and on. It is so hard to get away from but vital if you want to protect your family from long-term health effects from food. I am still at the starting point of my food journey but even I’m at the point if I walk through the isles of a traditional grocery store, I feel like I’m shopping in a plastic waste dump. There is seriously only 10% of a traditional grocery store that I want to put inside the stomach’s of my children. And that is a pretty scary thought. Not eating packaged food will also limit your palm oil consumption.

My last point is bigger is not better. It seems the bigger you are – the less accountable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy you are. I see it all the time in media saying “trust us, protect your family, we are the experts, but because we have P&G as our advertisers – still buy toxic shit.” The mixed messaging has to stop. Either you are pro health or pro making money with big time advertisers.  The perfect example of bigger not being better is Dr. Oz. Is that man having a tough time lately or what?  Read below to find out why.

Okay – let’s join these dots. Everything I have mentioned came to a tipping point for me tonight. Seeing brutal images of tortured orangutangs that left me devastated are the reason for this article. Palm oil is causing an ecological disaster and primate genocide and you can’t help but think consumer demand is the reason it’s happening. Do we seriously want to live in a world without tigers, orangutangs, and rhinos? There are less than 7,000 Sumatran orangutans left and they have now been classified as critically endangered. Their near extinction needs to get consumers (you and I) looking at ingredients before a product goes into our shopping carts.  We need to think for ourselves so when Dr. Oz puts consumers into a buying frenzy when he recommends Red Palm Fruit Oil as his miracle find in 2o13 – the back-end destruction caused to the forest and animals doesn’t happen.

How can we help? Although palm oil is used in the production of biofules, the increase in oil production is because of food demands. Who are the big companies driving this demand? Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Kraft and Burger King to name a few. Here is our way as North Americans to help the deforestation and slaughter of animals – influence the world with your consumer dollars. We have the ability to drive change where we spend our money. There are organizations dedicated to helping buy back parts of the rain forests in Indonesia and Malaysia (they are responsible for 80% of world palm oil production). The website Say No To Palm Oil has a really helpful list of the top 30 names palm oil can be labelled under. It’s important to the remember that these ingredients can be found in natural or organic products because we are talking about how palm oil is produced, rather than it’s contents.

I won’t link to the image that is now searing into my brain of dead orangutangs and the terrible way their lives are being extinguished. However as a mother, I will leave you with a few facts I won’t ever forget after researching orangutangs. Did you know that orangutangs are so close with their children that unlike any other mammal, orangutang babies stay with their parents until they are 7 or 8 years old? I saw proof of this connection when watching how difficult it was for the poachers to pry an infant away from it’s dead mother. With the illegal trade on infant orangutangs it is estimated that for every orangutan orphan sold, six to eight orangutans die in the process of capture and transport. With there only being 1 chromosome difference between orangutans and humans – the similarities between the human/orangutang infant/mother bond left me feeling like I needed to do something to help. I hope this opens a window of awareness for you.

For people that want to buy personal care products I usually recommend Green Beaver because they are certified organic and Canadian made. I just confirmed on their Facebook Page that they do not use palm oil in their products. So if you are looking for a great line that is organic and made without palm oil – Green Beaver can help!

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Back-To-School Lunch Tips and A Waste-Free School Initiative

Parents with children returning to school need to get ready to pack roughly 200 lunches for school days this year. That doesn’t include snacks for after school activities or sports.  The website Waste Free Lunches can help with it’s emphasis on packing healthy, well planned lunches, as well as helping the environment by eliminating single use plastic bags and wrapping. 

The two moms behind this website and the creators of the laptop lunchbox also wrote a book that is included with your purchase of these bento-style boxes.  It was written to help guide parents and inspire nutritious, earth-friendly lunch ideas.  There is a sampling of these ideas on the Laptop Lunches site. Sending your child back-to-school with a waste-free lunchbox is a great way to start the school year and go the extra mile by reducing waste and renewing your commitment to your child’s health.   In light of the recent issue with traditional lunch boxes testing high for lead and other toxic substances, this custom solution with bisphenol-A-free polypropylene square boxes and lids, and a phthalates-free carrying case is wonderful to ease your mind that your child is eating from a non-toxic product.

I noticed something on their web site that inspires parents with taking the waste-free concept to a higher level. Looking to make a difference in your school and help the planet – what about starting a waste-free lunch program at your school? I would never suggest a concept that is incredibly difficult to coordinate or manage, but this seems pretty easy!  This would be an incredible school initiative! 

“A waste-free lunch program is a process of educating students, parents, and school staff about where our trash ends up and how we, as individuals, can reduce the amount of trash we generate. Waste-free lunch programs favor the use of reusable food containers, drink containers, utensils, and napkins. They discourage the use of disposable packaging, such as prepackaged foods, plastic bags, juice boxes and pouches, paper napkins, and disposable utensils.”

Source: Waste Free Lunches  Read the comparison between a disposable lunch vs. a reusable waste free lunch. Continue Reading →

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