One of the important actions you can take for the planet and yourself is to know the ingredients that go into the food you eat. Palm oil is a common ingredient in packaged foods and even cosmetics and soaps.
While some palm oil is grown in sustainable ways, most is grown on large plantations that are chopped out of important tropical forests. Vast areas of Indonesian forest, vital to plant and animal biodiversity, are lost to supply palm oil for products sold in the U.S. The choices you make when you buy soap products or a box of cookies can have a direct effect on creatures a world away, like wild orangutans. I was surprised when palm oil was an ingredient in my dog's favorite natural dog cookie. For more on orangutan issues: Orangutan Conservancy.
When you give a gift from your own hearth you can make the decisions about ingredients–healthy, local, fresh. Some of my friends make wonderful gifts in their kitchens. For example:
- My friend Brian makes an incredible mustard. I made sure that I was on his Santa list again this year.
- Homemade baked goods typically have lower fat levels and calories because they don't include palm oil and fats with a long shelf life.
- My lemon tree has a bumper crop this year. With lemons in the market at 50 cents a piece, a bag of lemons in a repurposed net bag has been a welcome gift for many of my friends and neighbors.
- I tried a new recipe and made a cranberry liquor. People are asking to be on that Santa list for next year. But don't tell my sister, because I made it as a gift for her.
For more Green Gift ideas: