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How The World Got Hooked On Palm Oil

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How The World Got Hooked On Palm Oil

The Guardian,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

What masquerades under 200 different names and is quietly destroying the environment?

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How many of the products that you use everyday are produced locally? If you’re a typical consumer, the answer is few to none. The vast majority of production happens far from the prying eyes of nosy consumers, and as a result, few products are created ethically. If you saw the exploited workers, beleaguered animals, burned trees and pollutants released in the name of your favorite products, you’d likely demand change. But since the mayhem happens far from your neighborhood, consumption will continue. So it is with palm oil. Consumers of palm oil (read: everyone) should take note of Paul Tullis’s Guardian article.


First there was butter, but in the 1960s, people started to worry that consuming its saturated fat would raise the risk of heart disease. So margarine grew in popularity until, in the 1990s, consumers understood that partially hydrogenated oils were even worse for health. That’s when palm oil took the world by storm and not just as an ingredient in processed foods. There’s no end to the industries that count palm oil as an essential ingredient. Palm oil gets used in an incredibly wide range of products. In Asia, palm oil has replaced soya oil as the...

About the Author

Paul Tullis has written for The New York Times Magazine, Wired, Scientific American, The Atlantic, Slate and Time.

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