So I’ve got a conflict to toss around. Sort of. Not the “difficult conversation” type conflict I’ve been so focused on of late. — or rather had been before my attention zoomed over to COVID. (Zoomed, you get it? Sorry).
This one is more a conflict within myself. Another who-do-I-believe? conflict. And it has to do with . . .
What’s healthy? What’s the right product to buy or eat or boycott?
I’ve found that, too often, because the guidelines keep shifting, how I sort it out is exhausting. (Not unlike my current love-hate relationship with Facebook, but that’s for another time).
Here’s my story.
Two-fifths of my Ohio-based grandchildren and their parents came to visit over President’s Day weekend and I did a little shopping ahead of time. In among all the fruits and veggies, I thought it’d be fun to make cookies.
I had chocolate chips (organic) in my pantry at home, but I didn’t have my favorite Toll House cookie recipe, so I swept down that aisle and grabbed a bag, for the recipe only, and tossed it into my cart.
Then, I saw a package for making chocolate chocolate-chip cookies super easy. What chocolate-loving
grandkid human being wouldn’t love it!
Here it is on my kitchen counter.
I don’t generally buy packaged food. I shop the perimeter, you know, where the healthy stuff is. But this was a special occasion.
I was thinking of the fun exercise it would offer the three of us. Besides, it called for my own stick of butter and an egg. That’s half-way to slow cooked cookies, I figured. And, it made sure I understood that it contained no colors, no artificial flavors, and no preservatives. See the big notice there on the front?
Into the cart it went, along side the Toll House package.
We never made cookies that weekend. There was simply no down time and so the package sat in my cabinet. I took it down
the other day a few weeks ago in preparation for a visit from their older brother, Mikah, who’s working in nearby Stowe this winter. It was only then that I read the label more carefully.
What do you notice?
Palm oil jumped out at me and my heart sank.
Palm oil is bad, I’d learned at some time and place; though I now have no idea when or where. “No Palm Oil” has been part of my shopping credo for years.
Why I was staying away from palm oil I couldn’t really say, only that people I liked stayed away from it.
Was it unhealthy or was there some other reason? If the contents of my cookie package was destined to go to my chickens, I wanted to at least understand why.
So, I turned to Google, purveyor of all things superficial. Sure enough, there I found enough reading material to fill a small library:
Top Ten Facts You Need to Know About Palm Oil,
Nine facts you (probably) didn’t know about palm oil,
Eight Things To Know About Palm Oil,
The Truth About Palm Oil: The Dark Side You Probably Don’t Know and
countless others. Far too many to list.
Here’s the problem with palm oil, I discovered. And it wasn’t health.
Cardiovascular issues seem to no longer be a concern. Sure, palm oil’s very high in saturated fat content. But, it also contains antioxidants and, when combined with a balanced diet, the high fat content, they tended to cancel each other out.
No, the problem was bigger than clogged arteries.
It was the impact on the environment that presented the most frequent complaint against palm oil use. Deforestation in particular. The loss of needed habitat for countless animals, as huge swaths of forest were clear cut, has orangutans suffering the most (100,000 lost between 2002 and 2018). But other animals are also affected. Local indigenous communities are uprooted. Climate change is exacerbated. Lots of environmental problems.
Further reading revealed that we’re not doing away with palm oil. Ever. It’s here to stay as the world population is ever increasing. Turning to other sources of oil, I read, will only mean even more land will need to be cleared. Sustainable harvesting is the answer.
There is now a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and companies (buyers of palm oil, specifically) can join and get a score that will enable consumers to have some insight as to the company’s overall culpability. That’s the theory.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (the group with the panda bear logo that automatically sends return address stickers ad infinitum) offers a palm oil buyers score card to measure how various companies fare in that regard. I linked to it just then.
So, I typed in Betty Crocker, clicked on their parent company, General Mills, and learned that in 2019 General Mills had a score of around 12 out of a possible 22. AND, they’ve made a commitment to do better by 2020.
For more details on how the WWF arrives at the scores, see this link.
Anyway, I made Mikah the cookies his sisters never had a chance to enjoy.
And they were delicious. And he took home all the left over ones.
How about you? Do you read labels? Anything you try to stay away from? How do you get your information?
P.S. for those of you aware of my sugar journey, I’ll just say I continue to be a work in progress.
I’m participating in Amazon Affiliates, so your purchase through my website will enable me to make a wee bit more and not increase your cost at all. The above link takes you to the LEAPFROG page on my website (not yet accessible directly) where you can learn more about the book. To skip that page and go directly to the book’s page on Amazon, click here. Thank you.