So yesterday, I went to see a really moving documentary about the rainforests in Indonesia. Without words, the film was able to convey the damage being done both to the rainforest and to the orangutans who are apparently going extinct as we speak. It was quite a remarkable piece, and as soon as they get the film online, I will be sure to link to it. After the film ended, the director and another orangutan activist spoke a little bit about the film, their efforts, and what is causing the destruction of the rainforest in Indonesia. Basically, the problems are: the timber industry and the palm industry. The timber industry destroys the rainforest for lumber, and the palm oil industry cuts down the trees for their palm plantations. Which means that palm products are killing the organgutans. And this is a problem because according to the director of Orangutan Outreach, palm products are in EVERYTHING. So while it is very difficult to live a palm-free life, "It is possible," he assured us.
So now, my sadness seeing the film was compounded with the growing horror that palm oil, sodium palmate and other palm products are now on my growing list of Things to Avoid. You know, along with:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Industrial Corn Products
Industrial Soy Products
Factory Farm Meat
Food in Plastic
Is this even POSSIBLE? Actually, yes. If you bought most of your food from a farmers market and found a natural food store (preferably bulk bin), you could avoid all these items in one fell swoop. (The palm products are probably in your soap and make-up though, so watch out there.) However, if you shop at a regular old grocery store, like the D'Agostino I patronize around the corner, then I would say, no. It's just not possible. Which is again why it is important for us as individuals to change our practices, but that's not enough.
The ever controversial Crunchy Chicken posted today about whether you can eat meat and still call yourself an environmentalist. Most of the commenters simply argued that it was silly to set an extraordinarily high threshold for the label "environmentalist." Moreover, many argued that as long as you ate sustainably raised meat, that was okay.
Now, I totally agree with both these points. However, I also think it's important to point out how difficult it is for many people to find sustainably raised meat. Again, if you just shop at the major local grocery store, which most people do, a lot of times, you won't find that option. And that's a problem that we urgently need to fix.
In the mean time, avoid the palm products, fellow eco-nuts. And for more information about the orangutans, visit RedApes.org.
9 months ago