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.
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.