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Reflecting on 10 Years being Palm Oil Free

Warning!  These images reflect the consequences of our blind consumerism. 

Whether you join us or not, we are not buying anything with palm oil. Because we are not going to feed the monster.

Single organgutan in the last tree standing after deforestation for palm oil

Emaciated orangutan found in devastation where his home once thrived Hopeless orangutan died 3 days after this rescue attempt Orangutan made homeless by the palm industry is darted by rescue workers Orangutan horribly burned by fires to clear forest for palm


Palm oil is UBIQUITOUS! It the preferred oil for the 10 Food companies responsible for almost all global brands

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmRaN5OcQZshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WNgoqBGw4Y

Most of you will not be able to watch this.  If you can even bear to scan this article about the film you may be forever changed.

” ‘She has lost everything’: Filmmaker’s heart-wrenching documentary shows tragic final hours of orangutan’s life as her rainforest home is ruthlessly destroyed”

On “Sustainable” Palm Oil, we say NO!

The palm oil industry has taken over the resistance to palm oil claiming that we need palm oil and that it is better to produce it sustainably.  I will write a specific rebuttal in the coming weeks.   But for now, it is our position that sustainable palm oil is a ruse by “big agriculture” and “big food” to silence opposition and continue business as usual.  Their so called certification fails all three tests of a credible certification:

  1. a public standard set to achieve a purpose with monitoring against its effectiveness
  2. chain of custody traceability
  3. verification by an independent third party

It has been 5 years since Birds and Beans Café went completely palm oil free.  David and I went palm oil free at home at the same time.  So we thought it would be interesting to discuss how its going with us as well as look at what has changed in the industry.

The palm oil problem is the shocking destruction of forests perpetrated in its production.  These forests are often taken from indigenous peoples without permission nor compensation and laid waste for all but the gluttonous palm oil industry.  Of special notice, is the horrifying pain and suffering faced by displaced animals, most of whom are endangered species.   I doubt most readers can tolerate looking at the images.

When David and I came to understand this in 2012, at a visceral level, our resolve kicked in: Under no circumstances will we support this monstrous behavior!

So this is not a crusade, nor do I imagine our stance or communication will make a meaningful impact on the industry.  But my body and my soul ache for the pain we inflict, and I will not support it.

At first it was difficult to find products without palm.  Palm oil ingredients are UBIQUITOUS!  And big food sneaks it into the ingredient lists so we have to learn to recognize it.


Once we understood that “vegetable oil” is a cover for palm oil, we realized that palm is in most processed foods (and most consumer soaps and cleaners).  For health reasons we were also motivated to reduce salt and we noticed that most processed foods are loaded with salt (and sugar) too.  It was overwhelming!  Where to begin!

We took a step at a time approach.  We looked at

  1. what we purchased the most
  2. what we didn’t need

We found processed foods that use sunflower, safflower or other explicitly stated oil1.  You won’t find these at the 7-11, but most responsible grocery stores have something.  We continued item by item.

Over time, perhaps a year, we found we were preparing our own food again.  This would have seemed impossible at the beginning of this process, but by changing one thing at a time, it happened on its own.  We shifted our shopping from the big grocery retailers to smaller organic grocers.  Interestingly, by bringing our food preparation back in-house, we found it was less expensive too!

We noticed that the huge loads of sugar, salt and fats in processed foods dull our flavour pallets, so it took some time for our pallets to recover back to full taste sensitivity. Now, I just cannot eat a conventional tomato… they are bland and pithy.

The food processing industry has convinced us that we need them, but we don’t.  The cost of outsourcing our food preparation is extremely high and it does not save as much time as we imagine.  We have now established new shopping habits and we support local grocers and organic production. Preparing food has shifted to a shared pleasure followed by the shared delight of real flavours! My fear of living on chickpeas and rice was utterly unfounded…Quite the opposite! That fear was planted by big food to keep me addicted to their low quality, bland, unhealthy food that is engineered to their lowest cost.

And by their lowest cost, I mean the unfathomable cost of the utter destruction of entire ecosystems and the human and animal inhabitants. The cost of life on earth.  And the cost of all of us becoming monstrous.  Cheap oil?  Really?

If you got to here, now you know.  You can never go back.  What you do now is who you are.

  1. Since banning palm oil from our diet and the café, we have since banned GMO foods.  Over 90% of canola oil is GMO, so now it is banned from our diet and the café too.
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Why Birds and Beans Café is palm oil free



The mainstream media has picked up the crisis of a small population of orangutans this week.  Their habitat in Indonesia has been relentlessly brought to ruin by palm oil producers over several decades.  According to RainforestPortal.org  “The globally exceptional Tripa peat swamp rainforests of Aceh, Indonesia have been set illegally ablaze by the oil palm industry, threatening to massacre one of the largest and most dense natural populations of orangutans.”
It is only the crisis of the appalling suffering and imminent demise of this population of our close relatives that has brought attention to this perpetual issue forward this week.  Pictures of near dead orangutans with faces pleading like our own gutted me.
But I’m not writing this to have us indulge in sorrow, though that may also be appropriate.  I’m writing this because the cause of this suffering is the production of cheap palm oil… “cheap”, there is an interesting word to use for the destruction of untold natural capital (I feel another post coming on!)
The destruction is happening because we buy and consume palm oil, either directly or indirectly, every day.  If we didn’t, the destruction would stop tomorrow.  It is not easy to eliminate palm oil from one’s diet because it is used in most processed food because it is “cheap”.  While reference to palm oil is disappearing from food labels as the public becomes aware of the environmental and, yes, health problems assoiciated with palm oil, the product is still there disguised as “vegetable oil”.

So in honour of earth hour, Birds and Beans cafe would like to emphasize that we offer absolutely no products that contain palm oil and as owners, David and I have committed to never purchasing products with palm oil in our personal lives (no more processed food).  This hints at another future post (in fact, let’s make it a category)  in which we’ll discuss our contention that the making of conscious food choices is the most important thing we can do for the planet — and we start now.

If earth hour teaches us anything, it must be that our cumulative actions can have impact.  Join us in reducing demand for palm oil and save the last remaining habitat for the orangutans.