Lenny & Larry’s: The Complete Cookie and Palm Oil

shopping

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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5 Responses to Lenny & Larry’s: The Complete Cookie and Palm Oil

  1. Michelle says:

    In my opinion, I don’t think there is any “sustainable” palm oil crop, as the demand has created so many illegal growers, the only solution is to halt the demand. With regards to Asia and “sustainable growers” or organic, try to listen to the interview on NPR a few years ago of Mark Bittman and his students who researched organic in Asia… the asian farmers are completely dissociated from the word, totally eye opening to our naivete as consumers. I also picked up one of these cookies last night and set it back down and picked another option. I googled their company and found your site.. I also write them an email. Good luck with your cause. MH

  2. Emily says:

    I have written the company and we have communicated extensively on this matter as an assumption was not enough for me to operate on. It turns out the oil is RSPO certified HOWEVER the general consensus seems to be that this is a meaningless certification as it is not properly regulated and the standards are extremely low.

    • It is this blog’s position that there is no widespread truly sustainable palm oil and that the RSPO, which is run by palm oil companies, is nothing more than the proverbial fox watching the henhouse. Their certification scheme is a joke.

  3. Chris says:

    I’m a little surprised being an environmentalist you would support a company after they said they don’t know where there palm oil comes from. Also trace amount sold in the volume that they sell cookies seems like it could add up quickly. If a company can’t confirm their source for palm oil then I would consider it to be from an unsustainable source given that the vast majority of palm oil is.

    • Thanks so much for reading and for your feedback. I agree with your hard-line stance on the environment, but, alas, I think you make a few assumptions. First, I don’t “support” them, per se. (That was a reckless word I used above, so revised it; thanks for your attentiveness!) Second, I’ve not bought one product of theirs since 2015. Period. Third, they CLEARLY know of the palm oil controversy and are attempting to remedy their sourcing policy (whether they have since then I cannot state unequivocally; also above, I point out that their third party margarine provider (which uses palm oil) gets it from sustainable sources). I also had direct feedback with one of the company’s founders (the “employee” in the above exchange), which we don’t often get on this blog. He seemed like a genuinely sincere human who cares about the world and the environment, but who’s also just trying to build his fledgling business — and I didn’t want to sabotage his good will aims (not that this blog gets that kind of exposure!). Fourth, I try not to let the need for the perfect outweigh the good when it comes to small businesses (I do NOT feel that way about big corporations). As much as we enviros wish it wouldn’t, wins for the earth come incrementally and not all at once.

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