Headlines: ‘Singapore affected by haze’ – and I can feel it, in my throat. Pollution index ‘hazardous’. But what’s haze about, really? They say eskimos have about 50 words for snow, we Singapore city dwellers as well as people in Malaysia and Indonesia have… smog.
That’s what haze is, a man made problem for which we as global consumers bear – at least partial – responsibility. How? By consuming palm oil and paper & pulp products produced in, well, pretty smoky ways.
Did we set those fires that clear land for cultivation on Sumatra? No, but each one of us is most likely using several products a day containing the demand for it. The chance is our daily palm oil consumption starts with the toothpaste, and our homes are cleaned with liquids containing it. Here are some of the alternative names for palm oil – check them out on the packing of pretty much anything you can buy in a supermarket:
Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hydrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol
At office, do you print with sustainably produced paper? By the way, how did you get there in the first place – is your car fuelled by fossil fuels or bio diesel? What’s better anyway?
The answer is there is no simple answer. Are alternatives to palm oil any better? What world’s resources are used to produce them, and are those sustainable? Are the alternatives any healthier for us people and the planet? The orang utans?
I don’t have all those answers but I know one thing: we are also consuming a lot of foods containing palm oil, which is often marked simply as ‘vegetable oil’ – you’ll find it in pretty much any sort of processed food such as biscuits, chips, and confectionery. Hot dogs at Ikea.
In addition to high sugar, fat and salt content yet another reason to avoid them. Bake and make your own ‘goodies’ and you’ll know exactly what’s in them. To get started, check out our baking recipes – how about this irresistible Strawberry Oat Cake? Super simple Banana Muffins, recommend by Mumpreneur of the Year Kareen Lai, or Energy Balls by nutritionist Liza Rowan (no oven needed)?
The choice and the responsibility is ours. Can you bake the haze away? Most likely not entirely, but at least you can have some good time with your kids in the kitchen. Get them do the baking.