UPDATED 6/20/2019: Derma-e – “No New Primary Forests Have Been Cleared” For Palm Oil. Hmmmm

UPDATED 6/20/2019:

Needing another fix of my favorite face cream, I hesitated buying before checking Derma e again.  They sent me the below.  Though it’s from 2014, it still is valid.

InterNatural Foods

I still have issues, “no new primary forests have been cleared…” and leaves open the question of whether ANY primary forests were cleared in the past for this company, it is what it is and probably the best answer we’ll get (unless you’re Dr. Bronner’s, which raises its own palm oil own farm in Africa).

UPDATED 4/27/2015:

I use this product daily and have been for years.  But I can’t escape my palm oil guilt and shame so repeatedly check with those companies whose products I use to update their palm oil stance.  Today, Derma-e’s use of palm oil came back to me like a “fist to the jaw” (thanks Pearl Jam).  So I did a little digging on their website.  Although it’s not drastically different from the below emails, it is promising.  To wit:

 Of note, derma e® sources its red palm oil from documented, sustainable sources.

Now this simple sentence is open to many interpretations, don’t get me wrong.  Does this cover all of their palm oil use, or only the red palm oil?   Is this wiggle room for other palm oil types?  Also, companies can call any palm oil plantation sustainable from the point on it’s planted, despite the fact that virgin rainforest may have been razed to make way for these monoculture plantations in the first place.  So is that the case here?  Another interpretation could be that they do the right thing and only buy them from sources that never chopped down, burned or destroyed rainforests in the first place — and perhaps not even in Southeast Asia.

Hard to tell.  Methinks it’s time for another email to them.




I like skin care products as well as the next confidently (wildly) heterosexual metro-sexual male.  But every time I reach for my anti-aging cream, I wonder about the environmental cost and toll it takes on the planet, its flora and fauna, and most importantly the precious orangutan habitat.

A couple of years ago in 2012, I wrote an email to derma-e inquiring if they were sourcing their palm oil responsibly.  Their response was reassuring.

Thank you for taking the time to write to derma e® Natural Bodycare.

We use Palm Oil sourced from sustainable farming practices. Just to reassure you how committed the company is to the rainforests is that the Co-owner and Vice President of the company own 26 acres of rainforest in Paraguay. She purchased this land specifically to keep it preserved, and is currently working on having some parts of it replanted. Part of the philosophy of the company, along with being cruelty free, is the preservation and protection of our environment.


I hope this information helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Kind regards,

Because so much has happened on the corporate palm oil front lately — and some leaders like Unilever have even backpedaled and are now seemingly trying to literally rewrite the rules (see below updated post on this subject) — I wanted to see what Derma-e says today.  So I wrote another email.  The response — two years later — is nearly the same, at least substantively if not literally.

Thank you for taking the time to write derma e.  The Palm Oil we use is sourced from sustainable farming practices.   The Co-owner and Vice President of the company owns 26 acres of rainforest in Paraguay.   She purchased this land specifically to keep it preserved and is currently working on having some parts of it replanted.  Part of the philosophy of the company, along with being cruelty free, is the preservation and protection of our environment. derma e is committed to the rainforests.   I hope this has answered all your questions.

Here’s a link to their environmental philosophy:

Let’s hope they stay true to their “rainforest commitment” but tying preserving rainforest to Paraguay in South America — and the rampant deforestation occurring in Southeast Asia today on Borneo and Sumatra are seeming unrelated.

Let’s remember: the demand for palm oil is:

1.  Causing the destruction of high conservation value rainforests, mostly in Southeast Asia, but now in South America and Central Africa;

2.  Causing the death, and driving to extinction,  precious critically endangered species who make this HCV forest home, like the orangutan, Sumatran rhino and Sumatran elephant (not to mention the chimpanzee and gorilla in Central Africa);

3.  Enslaving the poor in atrocious slave-like palm oil plantation conditions;

4.  Displacing indigenous rainforest peoples from their ancestral homeland:

5.  EXACERBATING global warming — which affects us all!   These forests (and peat swamps) are CARBON SINKS.

Let’s hope derma-e is a good corporation. One we can trust and continue to use as consumers!

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Sabre Jet

Summer of curly-haired Ray’s eighth grade year in 1978 was memorable.  Not only had he just given a voice-cracking speech as valedictorian of his junior high graduating class; not only did he overcome initial adolescent shame to proudly hang his very first “girlie poster” on his bedroom wall (The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders!) – which gave his father some masculine “Atta boy” pride; not only was Mark Hamill, flush from Star Wars superstardom, back on the big screen in “Corvette Summer.”  Nope, for Ray the most memorable part of that summer – thanks solely to his eccentric father – was the delivery of “one of the greatest fighter aircraft of all time[1] to the very driveway (!) of his family’s suburban (exurban, really) subdivision home.

Let me repeat:  A genuine.  North American Aviation.  F-86. Sabre Jet.[2]  Right there, in dinky, thumb-sized Temecula, a town once-so-small the notoriety-craving townsfolk sacrificed the cleanliness of their “whitest white” clothes by swearing-off Clorox Bleach for a whole month for some silly commercial of the era.

Ray’s physician-father was unusual, to say the least.  He was a proud Korean War veteran who actually volunteered for the Army after hearing radio reports that the Communist North Korean Army had crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea in the summer of 1950.  And Ray’s best childhood friend – his blonde-haired, fraternal twin brother Rob, adored their dad as much as Ray did.  Even though it was the late ‘70s, the twins were not really so much products of their day, like other local kids.  Rather, they were like little clones of Dad, at least through the easily-influenced seventh and eighth grades.  The inseparable brothers cut their hair unstylishly short like his, eschewed sports as he did (though Dad respected football for its war-like strategy), and dressed older for their age (Rob bizarrely even wore actual military-issue black patent leather dress shoes for a spell in junior high).  For a short time there, they desperately wanted to be Dad.

Given their father’s Korean War experience, he regaled them with the F-86 legend.  It was a godsend to the war.  Packing a lean 17,772 pounds of gravity-defying mass onto its economical 39 foot, 1-inch wingspan, its single J47-General Electric-27 air-sucking engine blasted some 5,910 pounds of dog-fighting thrust up to a near sound-breaking speed of 688 miles per hour, all the while boasting an aerial armory of six .50 caliber, M-3 enemy-killing machine guns, a handful of 2000 pound bombs and a couple 16.5-inch air-to-air rockets! In a word, the F-86 was an arsenal in-the-sky.  And to hear Dad tell it, the fighter saved not only his life, he claimed, but that of his fellow American troops many times over.  The jets flew protective cover, carpeting Chinese and North Korean troop positions, thus becoming the instant hero to the impossibly young infantry ground grunts on the battlefields below.  Dad wasn’t the most outwardly emotional or sensitive man, but an occasional feeling or sentiment reluctantly seeped out on occasion.  So it wasn’t exactly unexpected that he’d have a soft spot in his heart for the plane that had been his personal wartime savior when he was just a young lad himself.

So imagine how the twins reacted that early summer afternoon, driving on the outskirts of a depressing, desiccated Southern California Inland Empire town, when Dad caught a glimpse of a familiar old friend peeking over a fence at an old airport junk yard.  There – sedentary among other ignominiously ditched military ruins in an otherwise overlooked scrap heap – it was:  a discarded F-86, perhaps a bit alone and forlorn, like a forgotten soldier in some old folks’ home.


“Yeah, the kids really took the hatchets to it!” the grizzled junkman loudly called out minutes later as he approached the trio as they stood worshipfully before the plane.

“Hatchets?,” Dad queried.

“Yeah, over at the Edgemont School.”  Sure enough, jagged, zigzag gashes pockmarked the once-pristine fuselage that weren’t the handiwork of any enemy flak guns, but, rather, the dangerous handiwork of another enemy: bored, mischievous, and apparently violent, kids.

“Kids can be so cruel,” Ray thought, nearly screaming it out with youthful verve.  At times the twins sporadically forgot they were kids, instead, imagining themselves much older than their peers. (Probably because they were sort of adopting the enthusiasms of a middle-aged war-vet!)

“How much?,” Dad snapped with a non-sequitur.  Ray’s and Rob’s eyes met in wide-eyed amazement.

“It doesn’t have an engine,” the junkman warned, wary he might lose an already rather improbable sale.

“That’s OK, I don’t think we’ll need it.”

“Well…,” Junkman hesitated, “what’re you gonna do with it?”  Silence.

“Oh, I don’t know. Rebuild it, maybe.”  Dad was fond of rebuilding old military carcasses, having already rebuilt two Army jeeps while Ray and Rob were relegated to holding the flashlights or handing tools to him as he barked out orders.  “Not sure yet.  Something… Just can’t see it sit sitting here like this.”

Their father didn’t exactly lack a sense of humor.  But most of the time it was strictly of the most cornball, eye-rolling variety, to be sure; probably the product of his strictly Midwestern bearing. (Ray, on the other hand, fancied himself a native California-sophisticate, and was just recently caught red-handed watching the much more subversive Saturday Night Live after Dad forbade the boys in the wake of a particularly vicious Ronald Reagan-SNL sketch.)  But Dad’s humor also manifested itself in more deliciously seditious ways when certain high-charged situations arose (like, say, maybe buying a huge broken-down fighter jet without a hangar or airport in which to store it?).  He just had his eclectic passions, though the boys thought nothing of them at the time.  They included cockeyed Republican protests (sending Mom and the kids off to greet President Nixon at El Toro Marine Base after his Watergate resignation), a phalanx of guns (he was a registered gun collector, he claimed proudly), frequent shooting range visits, a distinct fondness for all things military, more guns (hidden about the house in case of any home invasions, natch), army surplus stores (more junk!), and tinkering around in his cluttered, over-stuffed Mad Scientist’s Lab-of-a three-car garage, wherein much of that early part of that summer was spent.

So as the twins reverently stood before this unceremoniously-demoted jet in its hardscrabble graveyard, they knew full well what Dad was up to.  He had to save it somehow – in the same way it had saved him so many years before – from a sad, bleak, humiliating demise. While they shared Dad’s idealistically redemptive vision, the boys’ testosterone-fueled excitement had more base childhood instincts at play: pure selfishness.  Imagine playing in a real, honest fighter jet!  In their own garage too!  For the whole summer!

So without getting approval from Mom, Dad plunked down $2,000 in what amounted to ransom to spring his old-timer buddy from what seemed like a POW camp for wounded war birds.  But that modest sum only covered the decrepit plane; that is, its scrap metal-meltdown value.  It didn’t cover the myriad ancillary costs:  the huge flatbed truck they’d need to transport it home; the various and sundry support staff; or the huge, neighborhood-rocking crane that would transfer it from the truck to the driveway; or all the tools, WD-40, grease, towels, solvents, oils, wrenches, sunscreens – and resolve – they’d need to properly dismantle, store and maintain the plane over the ensuing years.  Those were going to be the additional costs – in lucre, determination and whimsy – and maybe Mom wasn’t going be too happy about Dad’s little scheme either.

But first they had work to do.  They had to build a multi-wheeled pallet strong enough to support the massive ballast upon which the plane’s bulk would be positioned.  This consisted of a few summer days in the darkened garage, toiling away in anticipation of the Big Day it would arrive.  There wasn’t anything much brighter in that garage than one small smoked-glass window (blocked by a freezer full of a thriftily-purchased side of beef, carved into its assorted cuts for Mom’s kitchen), other than maybe the omnipresent glow of a black and white TV broadcasting tacky daytime programming, like reruns of “Gomer Pyle” and incessant commercials for cheesy K-Tel products and “Wally Thore’s School of Trucking.”  The willing twins, commanded by Dad, obviously, measured, cut, and bolted wood boards, 2×4 beams and 2×6 planks into precise lengths, shellacking them with numerous coats of a rich, clear syrup-like gloss to protect them from the harsh summer elements.  They bored deep, exquisitely perfect holes with long drill bits and elaborate countersinks into the wood. They fastened industrial-strength, heavy plastic caster rollers to the pallet underbelly.  And all of this was under the whole grand “god help ‘em” hope that the entire apparatus wouldn’t just collapse under the mass of tons of sheer dead airplane weight.  After all, they’d need this pallet to push the plane around, like one of Dad’s recovering heart patients on a hospital gurney, since there would be no actual wheels on this patient by the time it landed home.

They also had to clean out the three-car mad-scientist garage in which the relic would eventually live (assuming it fit first, of course).  And they had to prepare a huge swath of open space on the brand new, but already oil-stained, car-choked driveway for the arrival of this aerial celebrity.  The newish driveway had already become a graveyard of its own for many of Dad’s stubborn car repair victims that sputtered along on jerry-rigging and crossed-fingers until their inevitable and merciful deaths; Dad too proud to relegate them to a junkyard.

Surely, they’d be the talk of Meadowview with this latest Dr. Morris escapade.  The cheerily-monikered “Meadowview” was their massive, large land-platted subdivision in Rancho California, then the eastern side of Interstate 15 in Temecula that was developed by a huge, faceless corporation more known for its aluminum-processing facilities than real estate development acumen.  It boasted acre-sized lots, open “common areas” and broad, leafy streets (well, once the trees were planted in the current savannah-like shallow rolling hills of the musky valley).  Even though these were the frontier years for pre-“Wine Country” Temecula, the family had already had their fair share of run-ins with the nosey Meadowview Homeowner’s Association. Dad’s touchy Libertarian, “a man’s home is his castle” proclivities were always offended when the meddling governing body complained repeatedly about their home value-threatening antics outside the home.  Whether it was their makeshift motorcycle track burned into what was left of the yard, their ghetto-like chain link fence dog run, or Dad’s out-of-garage auto maintenance performed in plain view of the neighbors, they were always a challenge to the HOA.  As to the latter episode, Dad being Dad, naturally, purposely performed all his subsequent auto-tinkering outside – prominently in display – shirtless, sometimes only wearing blue trunks, black socks and black dress shoes, and boasting skin so unbearably white as to zap instant blindness in any neighbors making the mistake of looking on, their tongues, no doubt, clicking in disapproval. Even though the HOA had threatened law suits before, with this nutty plane exploit the family would only be the neighborhood pariah all over again.  For sure.

On the Big Day of arrival, though, there was no seeming trepidation, at least not at first.  Nope, they were as giddy as a phony sick day spent at Disneyland.  They’d already been alerted that the jet had been loaded successfully by crane on the back of a huge flatbed truck to wend its way down the narrow two-lane Highway 79 from the ramshackle desert hamlet of Hemet to the (improbable) oasis that they always imagined Temecula to be.  Dad drove the boys part of the way to meet it as it got nearby so they could be the plane’s honored escort home. Actually, though, the boys were somewhat disappointed that the plane wasn’t being moved intact, like the static display version they saw in the scrap yard, with majestic wings, landing gears and battle glory deployed gallantly intact.  But that was not to be.  For transportation, the plane had to be cruelly dismembered first.  So by the time they met the truck, the fuselage sat on the flatbed with its disconnected wings folded neatly at its side, like a resting bird incubating its nest.  This may have been necessary for the move itself, but it seemed that their unbroken dream for the plane was slowly shifting into the stark reality to come, especially for Dad.

The flatbed and its earthy manly entourage arrived on the homey little cul de sac in late June, just as the late spring gloom gave way to the blowtorch-hot summer that had already bleached and cracked the upholstery and plastic dashes of so many of Dad’s cars.  The street name was also optimistically dubbed “Avenida Verde” or “green avenue” by the marketing-savvy corporation, a name Ray always found funny considering how brown and carpeted with foxtails and sagebrush the surrounding hills were in the tinder-dry heat.  Following the truck as its able partner was a huge ‘mutha’ of a crane, its main boom seemingly tall enough to move the World Trade Center.

The Morris family being fairly self-contained didn’t know many neighbors well, at least as friends. In fact, Dad always looked on them – like the whole town en masse – as too snooping for their own good, especially when they complained (via the HOA) about all the jalopies, old wrecks and trailers that Dad seemed to store around the house.  As kids, the twins loved living in a mini-junkyard of sorts.  But the neighborhood didn’t exactly share their exuberant innocent joy. In fact, once when their very rural town instituted mailbox delivery for the first time, the mailman complained that their freshly-installed mailbox (its base entombed in concrete, no less!) wasn’t regulation enough.  An angry Dad daydreamed of revenge, conspiring plots of nighttime commando raids, snipping heads off precariously-placed nails in the neighborhood streets so that a particularly-intrusive US Mail truck couldn’t help but get its tires popped in the left-behind spikes.  (Said commando raids were never executed.)

Surprisingly, though, no prying neighbors visited the house on that move day, either out of angry disapproval or keen curiosity.  Maybe it was because of the decidedly frosty disconnect between the family and the community, even those in their immediate environs.  But the flatbed, crane, attendant movers and all the assorted support vehicles congregated on their winding rural street, as if about to launch D-Day.  When the crane’s burly stanchions were firmly emplaced into the asphalt to support the plane’s girth, it took up nearly the whole street in front of the house. Surprisingly, Ray thought nothing of it pretty much shutting off the neighbors’ escape route to the connecting byways.

Werner Herzog directed his cinematic masterpiece “Fitzcarraldo” – about a singular-minded visionary who drives himself to the breaking point to carry a steam ship across the Amazon jungle.  To Ray looking back now, this was probably Dad’s own private “Fitzcarraldo” moment.  It was one of the first times he saw a chink in Dad’s usually tough armor, that’s for sure.  After all, the jet, even while perched on the flat bed, was dwarfing their household driveway.  And there was no way in Temecula’s brown earth that a Sabre Jet belonged anywhere but at an airport, preferably a military one, let alone in front of tranquil residential neighborhood.  Seeing this up-close and personal, rather than in Dad’s optimistic dreams of saving this plane, the twins could almost see in real time the doubt and misgivings creep into Dad’s head.  No matter.  Too late now.

So the action commenced unabated.  The hydraulic crane, with its long booms, counterweight, and hoists stretching out like a praying mantis, whirred and swayed as it first carefully deposited the disconnected wings onto the grass-challenged, brown-patched backyard. The struts and landing gears were still embedded on each wing erect, as if dutifully ready to cushion a landing on an Inchon, Korea airstrip, circa 1952.  Considering each wing itself was nearly 20 feet in length, the backyard now contained not one, but TWO of them, clocking in at some 40 feet of once-prized backyard area.  The wings now sat there flightless, however; upside down in the ground, with each landing gear and its concomitant flat tire popping into the air like STOP signs ominously warning of danger ahead.

Next came the big moment.  The fuselage in all its silvery, conical glory – signature “open mouth” air intake scoop, and high, proud tail – was slowly lifted ever so carefully off the truck bed.  Cautiously, slowly, the turret rotated 90 degrees, paralleling the driveway, aiming the plane for its target – the custom-built pallet they had diagrammed, planned, and built for this special day.  Throwing levers and knobs, the crane operator slowly lowered the body to the pallet below, its wood beams and caster wheels creaking and almost wheezing as it worked overtime to support the weight that now nearly crushed it.  But the pallet held – just as Dad envisioned.

About a sweaty hour or so later, the crane retracted its cables, folded its boom and hoist, and hauled itself away.  And just like that; it was over.  The assorted support workers filed away, leaving nothing but silence in its wake.

And there they stood, the three of them: Dad, Ray and Rob – jaws agape at what remained: a huge, tailed, metallic beast, resembling a gargantuan steel-and-iron cigar, looming over an upper middle-class home.  And with the all that aviation debris strewn about the property, neighbors could be forgiven if they thought they had stumbled on the aftermath of a horrible aviation catastrophe.  Almost as if the wings were ripped off mid-collision, falling like heavy leaves into the backyard, as the disembodied fuselage continued skidding across the driveway to its eventual resting place.

Nothing could be more out of place.

Up until this point, Mom wasn’t exactly a willing participant in their little adventure.  In fact, she had avoided the noisy melee altogether that day.  So, when she finally deigned to step outside in the silence to finally gaze on the scene she had heretofore so carefully side-stepped, the twins watched as she quietly drank in the whole preposterous panorama with some mild amusement: the fractal wings, the fragmented body, her momentarily dumbfounded brood.

Mom, at this point in her life a throwback to the homemaker of another era, was already well-versed in Dad’s peculiar enthusiasms in their marriage.  Over the years, she’d seen Dad at work on many of his grand schemes.  For instance, his split-second, unilateral purchase of a huge gas guzzling (8 miles per gallon!) motor home that absolutely nobody needed at the height of the early ‘70s gas crisis, but presented to her majestically as a convenient “Mother’s Day” gift that he wanted.  Or how he rebuilt an entire airplane in their small Orange County house once, basically draping the dining room, living room and kitchen – and any other available surface areas – in aviation fabric, even drafting his own aging mother’s arthritic, knotted hands and limbs, to help cut, sew, fashion and stretch cloth over the skeletal frames that would soon become its wings.

This latest circus was nothing new to Mom.  Even so, the boys studied her for any hint of a reaction to what was going-down.  Slowly, they saw her mouth part, like sun-breaking clouds after a hard rain, as if poised to say Something Meaningful.  But nothing came out.  Instead, she delivered a broad, knowing, warm smile, as if to say, almost proudly to Dad: “That’s my boy!”  Wordlessly, she turned back around on her heels to step inside, shaking her head knowingly; a “been there, done that” realization.

Dad’s sentiment seemed a little different, though.  His face was drawn and haggard as he gazed on this odd sight, the silence only exaggerating the importance of the moment.  Every small muscle in his jaw, every cell in his pursed lips, every movement in his somewhat weak chin, all seemed to silently scream out the same thing, “What have I done?!”  If those were his hidden thoughts, though, his voice admittedly didn’t reveal it to his devoted sons.  He was hushed, to be sure, almost muted.  He wasn’t a loud man.  He was more stoic and reserved.  But, somehow, he summoned the motivation to keep any possible façade of determination alive for his kids.

“Well, let’s take ‘er apart….”

Seriously?, Ray thought to himself.  We’re really going to keep this thing?; this enormously huge, honkin’, out-of-place…museum…conversation piece?  Obviously, if the kids had a couple doubts, you’d think Dad would too; after all this was his mess and he had to own it as the ranking adult!  But that’s why the boys loved him.  Deliberate.  Decisive.  Determined.  Even if he had self-doubts, unrecognized by Ray and Rob, he’d still do his best to make them feel as if this was all part of his plan.  Of course, they’d take it apart.  What else could they do? Those were the orders.

The next few passing days and weeks were pregnant with purpose, at least in the short term. An official-looking cease and desist order on Meadowview HOA letterhead, threatening legal action if they didn’t remedy the eyesore, was met with characteristic derision from Dad.

“Why should they have a say in what I do with my house?!,” he argued to nobody in particular, making significant effort to punch the “my” for emphasis.

They had to deal with the plane somehow. Hell, even the eighth graders knew that. Little did they know, though, but Dad had apparently already made calls to the Planes of Fame Museum up in Chino to take the plane as a donation.  Ray and Rob just didn’t know it yet. That’d probably be too much to bear at that point, after so much work was done. But it was quickly deduced when, not many days after delivery, the museum sent their own truck to pluck the wings from our backyard, leaving only the hollow fuselage behind, its continued presence at home that summer yet another example of more ruminations and mind-changing for an obviously conflicted Dad wondering, “What do I do?”

To be brutally honest, the rest of the summer was probably less eventful for the boys than one might imagine.  What was once a rousing quixotic quest to recapture wartime heroism and muster mighty military memorabilia became sheer anticlimactic drudgery for Ray and Rob.  They were the soldiers in Dad’s army.  The imposing officer didn’t deal with the drudgery.  Only the draftees did while Dad was off at work at the hospital.  They were the front-line grunts.

The twins spent one hot summer day after another tediously twisting, popping and busting-out every conceivable screw, nut, rivet and bolt they could possibly find on the massive hulk, wherever and whenever they appeared to their bare, un-sunglassed eyes.  Ray baked his flimsy adolescent frame in his favorite brown JC Penny Toughskin jeans, which were far too hot for the superheated blast furnace days, wrestling tools, wrenches and screwdrivers in a valiant effort to find the key to breaking the plane apart into more manageable halves.  It was like a huge, metallic Gordian Knot.  The boys had no choice, really.  The entire plane wouldn’t fit into the garage, they discovered, so they had to take it apart somehow – and preferably before the next Meadowview HOW legal threat arrived.  Neighbors who drove by caught visions of the boys’ bodies splayed like spiders across the shimmering fuselage, exposed skin either pinked by the sun or seared on the plane’s frying pan-hot exterior, removing hundreds of screws, in vain, it seemed, and moving on to the next set of them, all in the hope that they could chunk the plane into bite-sized pieces.  It was Sisyphean; the more they toiled, the more they twisted their sore, muscle-shredded forearms and thought they were making progress, the more they seemed to go backwards.

Finally, Dad found the Holy Grail of super-secret Sabre Jet security failures.  It was sort of like that surprisingly prosaic exhaust port that spelled the demise of the Death Star in “Star Wars.”  There were two huge bolts flanking either side of the plane, the size of bowling balls, actually, and hidden under pesky flaps of exterior steel skin, that launched their successful assault on the warbird’s fuselage integrity.  For this special occasion Dad procured one of the myriad tools he had in his mad scientist garage – a huge brown monkey wrench of sorts, as long as Ray’s eighth grade body was tall, it seemed.  Looking like something out of Soviet-era social realism propaganda artwork, the three males grabbed hold of the wrench and heaved-and-ho’d, up and down, throwing all their might in one direction until the massive fastener twisted ever-so-slowly.  After each miraculous twist, they readjusted the mammoth wrench for another bite and twisted again.  And again, repeating this arduous task over and over, on each of the two bolts for what seemed like hours.  They finally had the plane separated in two, cracking it open like a huge ostrich egg.  With little fanfare, they heaved with all their might to push the tattered cockpit half of the jet into the garage, all the easier to play “fighter pilot” with, of course.  They lashed the back half to a discarded motorcycle trailer and wheeled it off behind one of the awnings in the backyard so that it couldn’t be spotted by prying neighbors driving by.

For some weeks, the twins did indeed play “Jet Fighter” in the plane.  They recorded some distinctly unpleasant airplane droning sounds from a record they oddly owned that was called, “Sights and Sounds of the Military,” to play on a tinny cassette tape in the cockpit.  But to even call it a cockpit was a stretch.  With all its instruments, dials, switches, toggles, and even the joystick cannibalized to scrap and sell at the junkyard, it took considerable flights of fantasy for the boys to imagine themselves in war movies of their own direction.  But they did their level best.  The sight of either brother marching toward the garage, already wearing their bulbous fighter jet pilot helmets (Ray painted his yellow), with the smelly, olive drab oxygen mask dangling from its side (like one sees in clichéd jet fighter movies) was commonplace for a spell.  But for many reasons it got old after awhile, not the least of which was simple childhood boredom.

By September, as the browns and golds of a Temecula summer inferno turned to the crisp, dry Santa Ana winds of fall, the boys love affair with the F-86 was all but over.  As is common among youngsters, the novelty of something new waned and they moved onto another new shiny object. This was true even of an F-86 fighter in one’s own home.  Playing war wasn’t as fun – or as cool – anymore.  Freshman year beckoned, which meant the discovery of college application-padding extracurricular activities, like varsity sports, student government, and geeky band, chorus, and yearbook elective classes, overtaking everything else, along with newfound lifelong friends and a developing interest in girls.

Mostly for Ray, however, his natural adolescent evolution/rebellion supplanted his devotion to, and worshipfulness of, Dad. Something from which he never fully recovered (a malady from which he still probably suffers).  Ray began rebelling and pushing boundaries, though still held on to his hefty dose of shame.  In short, the boys didn’t come home right after school anymore, as Mom and Dad had come to expect in earlier years.  Their days were now being absorbed by the encroachment of average teenage life.

That’s when Dad started to retreat to long hours building his private medical practice.  On the outside chance the boys did catch him at home in those days, they could see that his demeanor had changed. Where once he was talkative (at least for him), and even whistling or butchering Broadway show tunes (“The Impossible Dream”!) on rare occasions, now he was nearly silent, barely able to muster a shrugged hello from his perch in “Dad’s Chair,” chain-smoking and watching TV.  Ray could tell from the way Dad rested his weary head on an arm propped on the armrest, his other arm draped behind him, nicotine-stained fingers clutching an ever-present cigarette for all its life, his mind was anywhere but on his family.  He started to look conflicted.  And Ray began to see Dad as all too human, perhaps as sensitive as him even, but he just kept it bottled up inside.

That’s when Mom, out of suburban housewife ennui presumably, stopped cooking meals for the family, instead giving the kids money for dinners away from home.  She began falling asleep earlier each night too in her overstuffed living room loveseat, hours before the twins finally got home.  The parents divorced a few years later.  Mom then became a self-made hero to Ray.  Where once she was “just” a housewife (“the most important job in the world,” Ray intones now), she resumed her long-delayed college studies, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and started teaching history to uncurious, undisciplined middle-schoolers in the only seeming school in California that would give a brand-spanking new, fiftysomething teacher a job (in the godforsaken Mojave Desert).

The twins father passed away in 2009.  Even in death he remained an enigmatic, anachronistic mystery: a crusty, conservative cardiologist who warned patients not to smoke, but who himself smoked about three packs a day, even after massive chest-cracking heart sextuple bypass surgery that nearly killed him once, and eventually dying of heart disease in the fleshy middle of the statistical survival median, fifteen years later, another inscrutable irony for an enigmatic heart specialist.

And the plane?  The Sabre Jet WAS finally hauled away to Planes of Fame Museum a few years after it landed in their lives.  The boys don’t even remember when and sure weren’t there.  Today, Rob tells Ray the fuselage sits dilapidated still; this time not in a scrap yard or junk heap – or in their garage – but in a museum’s chop shop warehouse, callously stripped of its remaining parts to keep more photogenic exhibits healthy.  At least those wings are attached to another F-86 on static display at the museum, though.  Or so they’ve been told.

Ray hasn’t been to Planes of Fame in probably 3 decades.  So he wonders if there’s one of those little “thank you” donation signs next to that plane that says something like the usual “Courtesy of so-and-so” that one commonly sees at museums, usually reserved for wealthier and more charitable families than his.  Ray can only imagine.  However, if there is one, he hopes it might say something like this:

“Wings on this exhibit are from a different North American F-86 fighter jet.  But Planes of Fame Museum thanks James W. Morris, M.D. and his heroic family for their gracious donation and for their dogged determination to preserve history.”

…Or something like that.  Or not.

Whether there is a “thank you” sign or not is really of no import.  Although Dad didn’t know what he was really getting into when he bought that ol’ hunk of junk, he accomplished what he wanted to, at least for a fleeting moment anyway.  Ray could be super-serious and say they learned a lot about lofty ideals summer, like loyalty and devotion to an old war buddy, but he thinks that would be overstating it.  Mostly that fanciful act taught the twins about vision, “letting your freak flag fly,” and maybe something about good old libertarian-cherished personal freedom.  So for three months or so that season, Ray and Rob were partners-in-crime in Dad’s rather loopy whimsy.  In fact, it’s become sort of an inside joke with their old friends.  When somebody comes up with a silly idea these days, the inevitable friendly retort is, “Like having a Sabre Jet in your garage?”

Sure, Ray laughs along with them.  It is funny.  But he’ll always remember those memories as some of his most cherished of an exceedingly complex father too.  Maybe he and his twin have already been duly rewarded for all the blood, sweat and sneers of that hot Sabre Jet Summer.

No thank you sign needed.



Sabre Jet Junkyard




[1] The Aviation History Online Museum, found at http://www.aviation-history.com/north-american/f86.html.

[2] Ibid.


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UPDATED – 9/18/2018: Silk Soy Milk is NOW Certified Sustainable on Palm Oil?!

UPDATED 9/18/2018: OK, I swore off Silk Soy milk years ago for a few reasons, the main being their flimsy palm oil policy.

Last night while in the supermarket, I ran a carton of Silk Soy milk through my handy-dandy palm oil app.  It came back with “PALM OIL FREE”!?

What the hell?!  So I went to the website of WhiteWave.  Here’s their new palm oil policy — dated January 2016.

Not sure where they are now but I’ve written them an email.  But here’s their policy.  Promising indeed.  (BUT I still argue that there’s no such thing as sustainable palm oil.)



UPDATED 3/12/2015:  Well, because Silk never got back to me from over a MONTH ago, I wrote them again.  This time, I got their attention.  Here’s what they said:

Thank you for your recent email to Silk®.

I am very sorry you have not received a response. In order to provide you with the most accurate information we need to further investigate your inquiry. We apologize for the delayed response but will get back to you as soon as we gather this information.
Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.

Consumer Connections Representative

Ref: N1971875

So as soon as I get their response from their” further investigation” (how long should that take?), I’ll print their latest response.

UPDATED 2/11/2015 I bought some soymilk today, really craving it.  I know their soybeans are grown in North America, so aren’t deforesting South American rainforests (how about Mexico, though?). But the palm oil thing still bothers me, despite their big touting of RSPO membership below (see the below trail for where I’ve been with Silk). So, I decided to write to them again.  Here’s what I wrote this time:

From where do you source the VAST amounts of palm oil in your products?  In 2013 you touted that you lived by RSPO principles, which is a real yawner, because the RSPO is toothless and hasn’t stopped deforestation or the death of critically endangered species, like the orangutan.  It’s a greenwashing organization so corporations like yours can make yourself appear to be sustainable. Again, what is your CURRENT policy on buying ONLY traceable sustainable palm oil?  I will print your reply on my palm oil blog, as I have been doing for years. I love your product, but HATE PALM OIL.  I will no longer buy your product if you still think being an RSPO member means shit.

I will print their response as SOON as I get it. ___________________________________________________________ PREVIOUS HISTORY Ever since somebody at my gym “pushed” a sample of Silk soy milk on me in 2008, I’ve loved it. Unfortunately, there’s Vitamin A palmitate in it — palm oil. I’m not sure when I became educated about the evils of non-sustainable palm oil, but I guess it was at least around 2008. Concerned by this ingredient then, and prone to memory lapses (obviously), I wrote to Silk’s corporate mothership WhiteWave repeatedly over the years and never posted their responses (not sure why either). This is a great opportunity to see how corporate thought on palm oil has evolved over the years for this company, from a sort of shallow nonchalance, to activist in its apparent need for palm oil sustainability. Why can’t all corporations do right by the environment? From 2008:

Thank you for your recent e-mail to Silk®. We appreciate your interest in our products.

The source of the vitamin a is a combination of palmitic acid and retinol. Vitamin A is naturally preserved. Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.

I pressed further, so they responded with this:

Thank you for your recent e-mail to Silk®. We appreciate your interest in our products.

We use Palm oil as a source of fat/oil in our products. The oil is obtained from the fruit of the palm tree. However, at any given time, new concepts can be developed and tested by consumer focus groups.

Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.

I wrote again in 2012. They responded then with this — a clear change in their sourcing:

We purchase high-quality food grade palm oil from two carefully selected and reputable suppliers, both of which source and produce palm oil products in an ethical and sustainable manner. Additionally, both companies are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization dedicated to the education and promotion of sustainable farming practices from social, economic and environmental perspectives.

The benefits associated with the use of palm oil as a food ingredient include a high content of vitamin E, zero cholesterol and an alternative to oils containing harmful trans fat. For these reasons, palm oil is on track to become the top vegetable oil procured in the world.

With regard to the countries where palm oil is sourced, the economic development to regions with limited or no government assistance is an important factor in determining their viability.

Partnering with producers who value sustainable business is an important part of our company’s mission.

Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.

Not remembering I wrote them a year ago, I wrote again yesterday, here in 2013, wanting to get back to drinking my Silk. They responded with approximately the same pro- sustainable palm oil email as above, but with a tweak (emphasized below):

Thank you for your recent e-mail to Whitewave Foods. We appreciate your interest in our company.

We purchase high-quality food grade palm oil from two carefully selected and reputable suppliers, both of which source and produce palm oil products in an ethical and sustainable manner. Additionally, both companies are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a 184-member organization dedicated to the education and promotion of sustainable farming practices from social, economic and environmental perspectives. The benefits associated with the use of palm oil as a food ingredient include a high content of vitamin E, zero cholesterol and an alternative to oils containing harmful trans fat. For these reasons, palm oil is on track to become the top vegetable oil procured in the world. With regard to the countries where palm oil is sourced, the economic development to regions with limited or no government assistance is an important factor in determining their viability. Partnering with producers who value sustainable business is an important part of our company’s mission. We hope this information is helpful.

Not sure why the slight update. But I’m happy that WhiteWave/Silk is allegedly purchasing sustainable palm oil. Back to drinking it guilt free? Hopefully. UPDATED 10/7/2013:  Some outstanding news from WhiteWave.  I found this story today:  here it is in a nutshell:

WhiteWave Foods Becomes One of the First U.S. Companies to Source Sustainable Palm Oil with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil In order to be considered certified sustainable, palm oil must meet eight principles and 39 practical criteria of sustainable production. These principles and criteria are designed to prevent undue environmental and societal harm. “The progress from WhiteWave Foods in converting a verbal commitment to a tangible delivery to ensure that all palm oil used in its products is fully sourced according to rules set by the RSPO deserves praise,” said Darrel Webber, secretary general of the RSPO. “Consumers in the United States of America, and all around the world, are becoming increasingly discerning in their responsible buying decisions. More awareness will be gained as more companies commit to responsible sourcing of sustainable palm oil… Purchasing CSPO through the mass balance system provides an important mechanism to increase demand for CSPO and support the transition to fully segregated CSPO markets in the future,” said John Buchanan, senior director of food security at Conservation International. “Conservation International applauds WhiteWave’s actions and hopes that other companies will follow this example.” WhiteWave also launched Responsible Sourcing Principles, which are designed to provide guidance for the sourcing of ingredients and materials. The Responsible Sourcing Principles are currently being implemented across the company’s North American brands, including Silk, International Delight, Horizon Organic and LAND O LAKES…” http://www.fool.com/investing/businesswire/2013/09/25/whitewave-foods-becomes-one-of-the-first-us-compan.aspx

OK, we still need to be suspicious because we all know the severe lies and shortcomings about RSPO certification.  But hopefully, this will help turn the tide against ANY non-sustainable palm oil.  Hey, it’s something.  I might even go back to drinking Silk!

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UPDATE: 7/12/2018 – Lenny & Larry’s: The Complete Cookie and Palm Oil


UPDATE:  7/12/2018:  I get occasional questions from readers wondering where Lenny and Larry’s is today on palm oil.  So I wrote them to ask. To their credit, they responded rather quickly:

We have been using sustainable palm oil with our palm margarine. We are completely moving away from margarine and directly to palm fruit oil. We have secured a supplier.

I will forward your email to my team.

Thanks for reaching out.

But that left a huge, gaping hole of information in their palm fruit oil sourcing.  So I pressed onward.

Thanks for the info, XXXX.  So without you giving away any secrets, is your palm fruit oil coming from 100% sustainable sources?  Is it from Indonesia/Malaysia, the hotspot for deforestation?  Is it RSPO certified as sustainable, traceable back to the source?

Sorry, I do have some blog readers who are asking where you are today and I’d love to give them some great news.

By the way, Palm Done Right gets sustainable palm oil from Ecuador and Sierra Leone — nowhere near the orangutans whose habitat is being destroyed for palm oil.

Surprisingly, I got an even faster response. This time, though, I’m not sure whether to take it as just fun and playful considering this guy’s about as, well, plainspoken and hot-headed (?) as I am (but with a decent sense of humor), apparently, and hope their team does  get back to me with good news that it’s all certified traceable and sustainable.  Or could I take it another way:  a completely tone deaf corporate response to a nettlesome enviro who hates how unsustainable palm oil is destroying the remaining tropical rainforests of the world.

Decide for yourself:

Sorry. Not answering any of the questions below. 😜

If my team is interested, they will follow up. I do appreciate you reaching out.

Regards, XXXX_

And make your purchasing decisions accordingly.  I know I will.


ORIGINAL POST: 8/2015:  I haven’t posted in awhile.  I’ve been traveling (all those final Grateful Dead shows in the Bay Area and Chicago) and even took in U2 at Madison Square Garden last week.  But I’m back now and hope to post a bit more as I get some free time.

I was working on an environmental law project in Los Angeles recently and needed a snack fix.  I went downstairs to a convenience store and immediately reached for this particular brand of cookie.  Not only because it was vegan but all natural.  What the hell.

But, yes, there’s palm oil in it.  So while I was waiting in a long line to checkout, I hunt and pecked a quick email to this company to inquire about their palm oil sourcing.  Given that I hashed it out with my right thumb, it was short, sweet — and perhaps a bit terse.  Although I did not accuse them outright of using conflict palm oil, that’s the way it was taken.  In all fairness, I could see how it could be taken that way.

Decide for yourself:

You claim to be healthy and enviro-friendly yet you use palm oil, the demand for which is destroying the last rainforeats and killing endangered species, not to mention harming indigenous peoples.

I will boycott your product and urge others to do so until we are assured you do not use conflict Palm oil.

Please respond with your sourcing info.

I won’t bore you with the exchange that transpired with an employee who responded to me over the weekend, but suffice it to say, this employee and myself are fiery, impassioned people  — and our email exchange reflected that.  This person obviously cares about the success of his/her company and its reputation — and for good reason.  I, on the other hand, am an impassioned environmentalist who knows a little something about the palm oil issue.  And I try to put my money where my mouth is.  I won’t buy something again until I know whether there’s conflict palm oil used or not.

At any rate, I think this employee and I became new acquaintances with some of the same passions and interests, such as a love for the animals and the environment.  Here’s their ultimate response.

Thanks so much XXXX and we hear you loud and clear. We are all animal lovers at Lenny & Larry’s. In fact, our brand will be 100% vegan by year end.

Since we don’t actually purchase any ingredients (we contract third party manufacturers), we encourage ALL suppliers to purchase sustainable ingredients. Palm oil is only in trace amounts within a sub ingredient which is the non hydrogenated margarine. It is minuscule in terms of volume. We are almost certain, knowing the company that supplies the margarine, it is sourced from sustainable sources…

We will continue to support Operation Gratitude, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, ASPCA and other great causes.”

So this seems like a progressive company that aims to do the right thing.  So let’s continue to watch them to see what they do.

UPDATE 8/5/2015:  In a sign of collegiality, Lenny & Larry’s sent me a box of cookie treats yesterday.  They’re quite good, vegan and “all natural.”   (Again, let’s just hope that the above is true — that L&L’s third party margarine provider (which uses palm oil) gets it from sustainable sources.)

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UPDATE 06/25/2018 FINALLY! Palm Oil-Free Microwave Pop Corn!



UPDATE:  6/25/2018:  Quinn CoFounder/CEO Responds.

I wrote the following email to Quinn’s nice original response to me:

Thanks XXX!


Sorry for any of my environmental whackjob crankiness!


Yes, I do know about Palm Done Right and, despite the fact you’re using palm oil — it’s done right, and mostly in Sierra Leone and Ecuador, which means NO orangutan habitat destruction, PLUS it’s not deforestation-produced AND it’s on already degraded land.
After being so angry that ALL major popcorn manufacturers NOW use palm oil, I was SO happy to find you guys because cooking on a stovetop like my mom did when I was young, is a hassle.?  AND compostable bags!
I’ll update my palm oil blog piece to reflect the Palm Done Right info.



And like the cool (busy) co-founder/CEO she is, she responded today:

Rant all you want! I don’t mind. I get it, hence why I am doing what I am doing.
It’s done right, as right as it can be.  And exactly, NO orangutan habitat destruction which was a big one for me, and no deforestation.
We are also angry at ALL The popcorn manufactures. Again, this is why we started QUINN, to show them their is a better path.
You can 100% do this on the stove top, instructions on the box, if you ever feel the need.  I am so glad it’s nostalgic for you. It is for me too!
Thanks so much for updating your blog info.
Thanks again for reaching out, and stay in touch!


I had Quinn popcorn guilt-free again this past weekend (while watching Aaron Sorkin’s nifty “Molly’s Game”, OK, it has a few issues).  It really is the BEST microwave popcorn out there — with our without palm oil!

Oh, and did I say the popcorn bag is compostable!?



UPDATE 06/21/2018:  PALM DONE RIGHT IS Used in Quinn Popcorn.

After I wrote the below piece, I discovered that Quinn Snacks does indeed have some products that DO use palm oil.

At first I was disappointed but I rushed to their website for solace, finding it here:


SO the palm oil they DO use is sourced sustainably (some environmentalists say that’s not enough) on already degraded land, and in Ecuador and Sierra Leone, meaning NOT EVEN REMOTELY CLOSE to those deforestation hotspots of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Palm Done Right info is here:


They also wrote me back today twice, one from the co-founder (partially redacted below) and from their customer service team:

We have 5 skus of microwave popcorn that do not contain any palm oil. We use high oleic sunflower oil from Colorado.
We have 3 skus of microwave popcorn, one of those skus does have PALM DONE RIGHT organic palm oil.
We also have pretzels, and those items contain organic palm oil as well from PALM DONE RIGHT.


Have you heard of PALM DONE RIGHT? A link to their website is here!

So while you can eat our popcorn guilt free, especially 7 out of 8 skus, the one sku that DOES have Palm oil in there would be our Extra Butter.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions, and really appreciate the patience with response time!

Take care,



Sorry about the delay in response. We are a very small team and respond to emails as quickly as we can!
Glad you enjoyed the popcorn and yes, we do still carry the Movie Night Extra Butter! You can purchase it on Amazon here.
We are always looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact and Palm Done Right was the best choice for us to do that.
Hope you have a great day!



AND their bags are compostable.  (Know they come with butter and sunflower oil bags that are NOT recyclable, though.)

So buy Quinn for guilt-free microwave popcorn


6/13/2018 – ORIGINAL POST

I have been despondent for many months now, bemoaning the fate of the Trumpian world in general, and the current state of microwavable popcorn in particular.  Every once in awhile a guy gets a craving for popcorn while binging BBC crime dramas on Netflix (that they pass off as their own, natch), you know?  But on a recent visit to the supermarket lately, I noticed that EVERY SINGLE GODDAMNED microwave popcorn product contains palm oil.  Every.  Single. One.  (Or so I thought.)  I even lamented the plight about a year ago here:


So I went old school, shaking a pan filled with canola oil and seeds on the stove top, like a 1950s-era housewife (or house husband; let’s not get gender specific, though that was probably historically-accurate for the era).

UNTIL NOW!  Look what I found tucked away at the very top of a palm oil-laden shelf in the supermarket this past weekend:

Quinn Pop Corn! (Named after the founders’ son, which, admittedly, is a bit precious, but I digress)!  Not only does it care about the environment in its packaging but they use NO PALM OIL!

IMG_2955 (1)

I was so elated I fired off a quick email to them.


Just a quick email to say thank you so much for not using rainforest-destroying, orangutan-killing, people-displacing/enslaving, global-warming exacerbating PALM OIL in your products!   I am an anti-palm oil activist and have gone back to making popcorn the old-fashioned way (in a stove top pan) to avoid using palm oil, which I discovered is in virtually ALL microwave popcorn upon my last supermarket check a few weeks ago.

To my great excitement, I found your popcorn nearly hidden in my local store. Not only is it the BEST microwave popcorn I have ever had, but I am elated that it doesn’t destroy the environment, and actually takes it into account in its packaging and ingredients.

I will post your brand on my anti-palm oil ranting blog. Thanks so much for giving us an environmentally-sane product in an insane world!

If they respond, I’ll post it here.  But for now — BUY QUINN!

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UPDATE: 06/13/2018 – Justin’s Does Better!


UPDATE:  06/13/2018:  While researching Quinn Popcorn, I stumbled on the fact that they support Justin’s snacks, which I wrote to a couple of years ago (see below).  Well, they’ve changed a bit.  Here’s news from them:

Sustainably Sourced Palm Fruit Oil

Our organic peanut butter cups are made with 100% organic palm fruit oil that is sustainably sourced from South America and certified under the RSPO‘s IP (Identity Preserved) supply chain model.

Our nut butter jars, squeeze packs and snack packs also contain palm oil that is certified sustainable under the mass balance supply chain model by the RSPO.

And here’s what that means:


Sustainable palm oil from a single identifiable certified source is kept separately from ordinary palm oil throughout supply chain.


Make sense?

Although we’re always skeptical of the RSPO, Identity Preserved sounds far better than Justin’s old fallback, Mass Balance RSPO supplying of palm oil.

So plaudits to Justin’s!


06/23/2016:  Another palm oil “horror” story from my employer’s kitchen.   The company means well:  to give employees some snacks to refresh them through their workdays.  However, the company doesn’t exactly do their due diligence on the sourcing of those snacks — or the internal ingredients.

Case in point (again):  Justin’s peanut butter products.  It’s supposed to be this whole organic-y, touchy-feely, nothing-but-peanuts-and-butter slice-of-heaven.  But the second ingredient on the label is freakin’ palm oil.  So I circled it on the label with a big black marker and left it on the kitchen counter for quizzical co-workers to wonder, “Hmmm, why was ‘palm oil’ circled here?”

Then I dashed off another death and destruction email to Justin’s Facebook page, loudly and boldly for all to see (and reposted, and reposted, and again).  If you’re a regular reader of this infrequent blog, you know it involves accusing corporations of being complicit in the death, destruction, displacement, etc., that palm oil cultivation wroughts (is that a correct usage of that word?)

Here’s their well-intentioned but misinformed response. It’s the same canned rationale they tee-up proudly on their website.  (http://justins.com/values)

Sustainable Sourced Palm Fruit Oil.


Our organic peanut butter cups are made with 100% organic palm oil that is sustainably sourced from South America and RSPO certified.

Our nut butter jars, squeeze packs and snack packs contain palm oil that was certified sustainable under the mass balance supply chain model by the RSPO.  Recently, this supplier’s certification expired. We proactively removed the sustainable callout from our label in recent months when we learned the certification was set to expire. We are diligently looking for a sustainably sourced, RSPO certified alternative and will continue to keep our website up-to-date with the latest ingredient information.


They clearly are well-intentioned.  All the greenie bells and whistles are on their website, from “Sustainability Initiatives” to “Giving Back” to “Compassion.”  But they put all of their eggs in the RSPO basket for easy cover.  And, as we know, the RSPO is no knight in shining armor.

(See https://gettingonmysoapbox.wordpress.com/2016/06/04/rspo-completely-or-just-mostly-worthless/)

Note too, that Justin’s says because their supplier’s “certification expired,” they specifically stopped labeling their products containing it as “sustainable.”  Makes sense, right?  Plaudits to them for having a sense of truth-in-advertising.  But if they’re no longer able to label it as “sustainable,” which from RSPO history it probably NEVER WAS in the first place (since it simply doesn’t yet likely exist (like a mystical unicorn)), and was explicitly drawn from “mass balance” programs (read: offsets), it sure-as-hell isn’t sustainable now.

So, Justin’s, we need to boycott you.  Sadly, deforestation is most probably occurring due to your direct actions.  Do better.  Be a leader.  Don’t buy “mass balance” palm oil.  Because that just means so-called “sustainable” palm oil is mixed with “traditional” palm oil.  Traditional probably meaning that rainforests were razed for agricultural purposes.

And to show just what’s at stake, look at this recent video I saw that shows sentient, soulful orangutans thinking and reasoning – and showing compassion. These precious creatures (along with rhinos, elephants, tigers — and indigenous humans) are being driven to displacement and extinction.  All for palm oil.  Cheap, dirty palm oil.



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Infuriating: Orangutan v. Bulldozer on Borneo


Look deep at this photo for all it depicts — wildlife facing down human “progress.”  Who wins?

Some backstory.  This picture was taken in 2013 but re-posted by my personal heroes International Animal Rescue on June 5 for World Environment Day.

Sadly, although this pic is from 2013, this forest is still being destroyed, “despite a high-level Indonesian government commitment to protect the forest.”

Read the full story here:


Just had to post this.  It says so much.

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Trader Joe’s – Can’t (Won’t) Guarantee that All the Palm Oil It Uses is Deforestation-Free

InkedIMG_2788 (2)_LI

I have a pretty long history of hassling Trader Joe’s for their palm oil policy. It hasn’t always been pretty. But in 2015, they promised their palm oil was from South America, which, while still suspicious if deforesting, say, the Amazon, at least meant the deforestation ground zero of Indonesia and Malaysia was not implicated this time.

Here’s the link to that past history:

So I went into a TJ’s recently and saw palm oil in a chocolate bar. So I wrote them, hoping the palm oil policy had been at least the same — or even more promising for the environment. Here’s their answer:

Thanks for writing to express your concerns over the use of Palm Oil in our products. We will forwarded your comments to the appropriate buyers and our Product Steering Committee for review. At Trader Joe’s we are always striving to improve and your feedback allows us to do so.

Much of the palm oil used in our Trader Joe’s products comes from smaller-scale family farms. These farmers are sometimes certified by ProForest and/or are members of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), which ensures that they meet strict social, environmental and technical criteria. For an example, one of our suppliers who utilized Palm Oil in our products, has kept to their pledge to source 100% RSPO sustainably sourced Palm Oil since 2015. Many of our suppliers that utilize Palm Oil are committed to working with oil suppliers to support the development of a sustainable, cost-effective market for palm oil to prevent the deforestation of lands.

With regard to environmental criteria, the assessments required by ProForest and RSPO are carried out at the landscape and operational level at both the farms and processing facilities. These assessments cover environmental impact on the soil, water, air, biodiversity and local communities. The lands the farmers use are not lands that were deforested. The lands used to grow the palm fruit are lands previously used for agricultural purposes (cattle, rice, bananas, etc.).

Still, though, while much of the palm oil our vendor’s source is as described above, it is impossible and disingenuous for us at this time to ensure that all of our palm oil is sourced this way, and some of it is definitely sourced as a commodity. However, for those products where the palm oil is sourced as a commodity, it is an ongoing process to work with these remaining suppliers to move towards a verified sustainable source. (Emphasis added.) We definitely appreciate your input, as we truly depend on customer feedback to help us determine how we do things. Hope this information helps and thanks again for reaching out.

Customer Relations
Trader Joe’s

What the serious Fuck!?

“…[I]t is impossible and disingenuous for us at this time to ensure that all of our palm oil is sourced this way, and some of it is definitely sourced as a commodity.”

So I wrote them back. Shocked that they find this acceptable.


I responded. You didn’t reply. I find this evasive.

You used to get your palm oil from South America. No more?! So back to Indonesia, who is deforesting faster than any nation on earth for palm oil!

So far no response. That’s not good.

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