Halloween is fast approaching. Understandably, your primary concern is likely what costume you’ll be wearing this year. (My advice: just go with the perennial classic, sexy Devil). But the spookiest part of Halloween isn’t necessarily the costumes or ghost stories. It’s a little-known ingredient called palm oil that goes into almost everything we eat. And it has a destructive, outsized impact on our environment.
What is palm oil?
Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the fruit of oil palm trees. Its versatility is legendary and can be found in literally thousands of products. Not just consumables, but toothpaste, shampoo, lipstick, and almost fifty percent of products you buy in a grocery store. The palm oil crop, from which the oil is derived, is a very easy and profitable crop to grow, even for small farmers.
So then what’s the problem with palm oil?
Palm oil’s production is a disaster for the environment, most notably it contributes significantly to deforestation. To create more space for the palm oil crop, biodiverse forests are being destroyed, seriously limiting the habitat of several endangered species, including the Orangutan. Not surprisingly, the carbon released in this process further exacerbates global warming.
Okay, you won me over. How do I avoid palm oil this Halloween?
Believe it or not, avoiding palm oil for Halloween isn’t as hard as you think! Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you start passing out apples to those eager trick-or-treaters. (We both know you’ll just end up fishing them out of your gutters on Nov 1). There are tons of candies that are produced without palm oil. Popular ones, too! If you’d like to learn more, use this exhaustive resource for all the palm oil-free candy. At just a glance, you’ll see there are plenty of companies making delicious candy without palm oil. Everything from Hershey chocolate bars to Peppermint Patties and all the Jolly Ranchers and Nerds in between. And for our millennial readers, yes, even Ring Pops made the list!
What else can I do?
Educate yourself on the topic! Most environmental groups don’t advocate the full abolition of palm oil, since alternative forms of oil can be equally destructive to the environment. Therefore, it’s best to join the chorus of consumers demanding sustainable, ethical farming practices for palm oil.
In the meantime, you can use this handy calculator to see which of your favorite brands are committed to the sustainable development of this resource.