Without most people knowing about it, palm oil has become part of their lives as an almost invisible ingredient in the products they use from the moment they get up in the morning until the moment they go to bed in the evening. But, even in the organic and natural products’ industry, only a few manufacturing companies source only organic and sustainable palm oil for their products.
What is Palm Oil?
Palm oil comes from the fruit of the African oil palm, Elaesis Guineensis, one of the two main fruit-bearing tropical palm species. Palm fruits grow in dense fruit bunches (“fresh fruit bunches”), each weighing between 20 and 55 pounds and containing abundant individual fruits. Once ripe the fruit will turn bright red orange, indicating that it is ready to be harvested. A healthy productive tree can be harvested year around, approximately every 10 days.
Palm fruit oil, or oil resulting when the fruit is pressed, contains antioxidants and beta-carotenes, and has a mid-range smoke point that make it great for baking, sautéing and frying. The oil from the kernel contains a higher saturated fat content which, along with its high lauric acid content, makes palm kernel oil perfect for soaps, household cleaning products, personal care products and cosmetics. Palm-based MCT oil is also derived from palm kernel oil.
Natural Habitats Group and Palm Done Right
Natural Habitats is one of the world’s top three producers of organic palm oil, established in Ecuador in 2009. They are fully committed to the sustainable production of organic and fairly traded products, including palm oil. All products are cultivated using 100% organic practices by independent farmers in Ecuador, and add organic credibility to food, personal care and animal nutrition products. Using a vertically integrated supply chain, Natural Habitat Group supports the communities in which they operate through organic farming practices and environmental conservation, and by providing education, healthcare and social support to improve quality of life for all stakeholders, from farm to fork.
Natural Habitats Group has created a movement to prove that palm oil can be grown for good and show that when done right palm oil can bring significant positive impact to the world. That movement is called Palm Done Right™, and is bringing together manufacturers, retailers and consumers to increase awareness around the environmental and social benefits of palm grown organically, with fair-trade practices, working with independent family farmers and the ethical treatment of farm and plantation workers. It is the highest possible standard for palm oil and goes above and beyond any other certification program by integrating additional criteria of the Organic, Fair for Life (FFL) and Rainforest Alliance (RA) standards. Independent auditing is used to verify that the criteria of all standards are met.
Palm Done Right and Wrong: What’s the Difference?
What differentiates Palm Done Right from the bulk conventional palm oil from Southeast Asia, is that Palm Done Right is 100% organic, deforestation-free, wildlife friendly, fair and social palm oil, sourced from independent farms in Ecuador. A growing number of brands are using Palm Done Right as the alternative to conventional palm oil for their products. And a growing number of retailers are joining the Palm Done Right movement to help change the conversation around palm oil and stimulate the uptake of organic and sustainable palm oil.
Our Partners in Palm Done Right
Harvest Market is pleased to sell products from brands that are committed to sourcing sustainable palm oil; companies such as:
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Moon Valley
- Wholly Wholesome
- New Barn
Always a leader in labor and environmental standards, Dr. Bronner’s set up its own organic and fair trade palm production network in Ghana. In their quest to find a sustainable and socially responsible source for their palm oil that did not cause new deforestation, endanger wildlife habitats or impoverish communities, they formed Serendipalm in Ghana. Dr. Bronner’s and their fellow partners in the Palm Done Right campaign take an active interest in the farmer communities and production landscapes where the palm fruit is produced. They go the extra mile to support the farmers who are working hard to do palm right, through projects supporting organic practices, replanting, education or healthcare projects, or environmental projects.
In 2016 Natural Habitats created a campaign and movement to prove that palm oil can be grown for good. To illustrate that “done right” palm oil can bring significant positive impact to the farming communities and production landscapes. We call this movement Palm Done Right™, and it is bringing together brand manufacturers, retailers and consumers to increase awareness around the environmental and social benefits of palm grown organically, working with independent farmers and the ethical treatment of farm and plantation workers.
Last year, Harvest Market joined the Palm Done Right campaign and this year, we are pleased to recognize this effort during Palm Done Right Month. We will be highlighting brands that use organic palm oil, and encourage YOU, the consumer, to exercise your influence by voting for good practices through your purchasing decisions every day, and choosing brands that take their sourcing responsibilities seriously. To dig deeper into this issue, visit the Palm Done Right campaign website.