7 local ways to ditch palm oil from your diet
PUBLISHED: 15:19 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:19 19 November 2018
If you've been touched by watching the banned Iceland/Greenpeace advert, try one of our foodie swaps.
If 2017 was the year we championed tackling plastic waste (still ongoing), is 2018 the time as consumers we actually sit up, listen and take stock of the impact palm oil production has on the environment?
We’ve all seen the videos. Orang utans clinging to aid workers as they flee flames tearing through their homeland. Orphaned animals crying for their mothers.
And the statistics are shocking. It’s estimated an area of rainforest the size of 300 football pitches is destroyed every single day.
But how many of us have so far voted with our buying power and actually done something about it?
The answer is likely not many. Until now. Until THAT Iceland/Greenpeace advert.
In many respects being banned from TV has worked in favour of the emotive short, narrated by Emma Thompson. Millions of people have watched the ad online. Everyone’s talking about it. Schoolchildren in years six and eight are watching it as part of their curriculum work on deforestation and rainforests.
There’s a feeling of movement around the topic of palm oil. We’ve been shaken from the tree, so to speak.
Palm oil is so integrated in our everyday products and foods it’s been made nigh-on impossible to separate ourselves from the stuff. It’s in soap, shampoo, bread, cakes, biscuits, crisps – so many items we chuck in our weekly shop without a second thought.
The power of change comes with reading those labels, knowing exactly what we’re buying and choosing to shop with the brands which say no to palm oil.
A key strategy to reducing palm oil from your life is to simply cook from scratch. The majority of foods injected with the ingredient are processed.
But if you can’t live without those treats, how about trying some local alternatives?
The second most prevalent ingredient in the nation’s favourite chocolate spread is palm oil. If you’ve got a high powered food processor, it’s simple enough to make the spread yourself. Simply roast hazelnuts and blitz while warm with an equal amount of dark chocolate, pinch of salt, and touch of rapeseed or sunflower oil to get the consistency you like. Beetella, made in Norfolk, is totally palm oil free, made with organic grape juice, agave syrup, GMO-free glycerine, cocoa, high grade dark chocolate, cocoa butter and coconut oil, with a touch of beetroot powder. Equally, Suffolk-made Scarlett and Mustard’s new chocolate dips/spreads are palm oil-free and available in flavours such as chocolate and orange, chocolate espresso, and chocolate and mint.
One of the best palm-oil-free national brands is Pip and Nut. But in East Anglia seek out Nuoi Foods, made on the Norfolk/Suffolk border by twins Sophie and Lauren Chittock. The sisters use only the best, most ethical ingredients to make their nutty spreads, which include Chilli Peanut butter, Pecan Pie nut butter (with pecans, cashews, tiger nuts and coconut nectar), and Superfood Coconut butter, with seven different types of nuts and seeds. Very yummy. Find them online and at local farmers’ markets and foodie events.
A prime offender is chocolate truffles – especially the longer life variety made without fresh cream. Palm oil gives them the velvety, luxurious mouth-feel we crave. An alternative locally is Booja Booja. Made in Norfolk, the truffles are vegan, GMO and palm oil-free. The brand has just launched some absolutely cracking chilled truffles in flavours such as honeycomb caramel, toffee strudel, hazelnut crunch, almond salted caramel and raspberry. The award-winning chocolates are made with coconut oil.
Under the guise of vegetable oil, palm oil is used in ice cream to help create the smooth, creamy texture (cutting down on the amount of actual milk and cream used). In East Anglia we are blessed to have some of the best ice cream makers in the country in our midst, using natural ingredients that do not include palm oil. Multi-award-winning Alder Tree uses simply fresh British cream, a touch of sugar and fruit grown on the farm to produce flavours such as blackcurrant, damson and gooseberry and elderflower. While up in Norfolk Dann’s Farm uses cream and milk from its own herd of cows, fed on their own farm-grown maize and grass, alongside free-range eggs to make flavours including vanilla royale, wild strawberry and banoffee.
Palm oil is rife in the bread industry. Why don’t you ditch the cheapo sliced white and instead choose really good locally-made bread from one of our amazing bakers such as Woosters and Timberhill Bakery? Alternatively (for your weekly sandwiches) Warburtons Danish White is palm oil free as are many breads from Waitrose including the essential wholemeal medium sliced and all Waitrose 1 loaves.
Ready made pizza dough and bases are a proper convenience but so so easy to make at home- even mid-week. For quick results make a plain scone base (450g white flour, pinch salt, 1tbsp butter, 4tsps baking powder) and roll out on a floured surface. Top with sauce and cheese and you’re ready to bake.
All too easy to grab at lunchtime. Make your own by packing a nest of rice noodles or quick cook noodles into a tub with the seasoning of your choice and some chopped veggies. Cover with boiling water, pop a lid on, allow to sit for a while then enjoy. As a guide, 1tsp vegetable bouillon powder will flavour one portion. Then add things like curry powder, garlic, ginger, soy sauce – whatever you fancy.
Those puffy maize-based savoury snacks are some of the worst offenders. So go local. In East Anglia we’ve got Kettle Chips and Fairfield Farm crisps. Fairfield Farm varieties are made using potatoes grown, cut, cooked and flavoured on the family farm with sunflower oil and natural, local ingredients including Aspall Cyder Vinegar, The Chilli Company chillies and Adnams Ghost Ship beer. Kettle Chips’ pleasing crunch comes from being hand cooked in sunflower oil. The ever-expanding flavours include Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup, Mature Cheddar and Red Onion and Sea Salt and Crushed Black Peppercorns.