The production of palm oil is one of the leading causes of deforestation in the world. The plant is primarily grown in tropical ecosystems such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. The reason farmers love palm oil is it is a plant that is highly effective at producing the palm kernels with minimum turnaround time in crops. Palm kernel is made up of is made up of 50% oil creating a product with high yields and minimum waste.
“Each tree can produce 10 tonnes of fresh fruit bunches per hectare of land” with on average 3.9 tonnes of crude palm oil and .5 tonnes of palm kernel oil extracted per hectare, according to greenpalm.org. Palm oil is the most highly produced oil in the entire world. The production of palm oil has been fired up in recent years in response to the ban of oils containing trans fat in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe. Many think that if something is healthier then it is generally a good product all around, but that is almost never the case when it comes to the production of food in the 21st century.
Where is all this oil going and how can we help palm oil become more sustainably produced? The use of palm oil has almost doubled in the last 10 years and is mainly used in the production of processed foods with the remaining amount going into personal care items like shampoo as well typical everyday cleaning products. That is right, folks, even your haircare has a high probability of having palm oil in it.
One way to limit our dependency on palm oil is to be conscious of the products we use and to be diligent in checking the ingredients list on every item we purchase. It may seem time consuming and downright paranoid but making smart decisions in our everyday purchases is one of the best ways to help the environment without having to make drastic change in your lifestyle. Little tweaks over time can make a world of difference.
Remember to get in the habit of researching companies that support sustainably produced palm oil which thankfully the market has shown an increased demand for sustainable products as these environmental issues become more mainstream news throughout the public. Why have these companies made sustainability a priority in their business model? For one, because their customers and the public have demanded they do so and make that change or lose business. They suddenly become leaders in their own business and other businesses will follow suit. Always remember that voting with your $$$ is a powerful thing.
As a foodie and a long-time environmental advocate, I have seen the impact food production has had on the ecosystem. Many environmental issues are linked back to what we put in our bodies and since palm oil is found in almost all processed foods finding another way to nourish your body is the best choice for you and the environment, and it usually tastes better! What exactly am I talking about?
Did you know that palm oil makes up 20% of the weight of instant noodles? It is one of the ingredients used in the mass production of all instant noodle varieties all over the world and is used to make the noodles cook instantly in hot water. According to the World Instant Noodle Association (yes, that is actually a thing) about 280 million servings of instant noodles are eaten every day. Now sit back and just think about that for a minute. The sheer volume that entails is simply astonishing. Maruchan has been living LARGE.
Let’s do something to change that which requires going back to our roots. Being a pastry chef and a foodie, if I can make something myself instead of purchasing the same item at a grocery store that is always a simple choice. I have included an actionable item for you to actively start reducing your consumption of palm oil and it’s going to be fun; I promise! If you like ramen or any kind of noodle bowl for that instance, you are in for a treat. I have included a wonderful and easy recipe for egg noodles that I have personally tested, and they were absolutely delicious. These are not just sustainably better, but also healthier and so much tastier as well. The comparison is really night and day and I bet once you taste these noodles, you won’t be able to go back to the packaged item they pass off as noodles. You are basically slurping up oil; how gross. Give this recipe a go and reduce your dependency on palm oil one noodle bowl at a time.
Palm Oil Free Instant Noodles
2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
¼ cup of water
Cornstarch for dusting
- Add flour and salt to your mixing bowl and mix to combine. Make a well in the flour and crack your eggs into the well. Mix the eggs and flour together either using chopsticks or using a dough hook. Continue kneading until the dough has picked up enough flour to become very stiff and then add in your water until you have a pliable but stiff dough. Knead for 5 minutes and then cover with a cloth and place in the fridge to chill and rest for at least 1 hour.
- When you are ready to make your noodles simply roll out your dough in a large rectangle about 1/4 of an inch in thickness and fold the dough over itself four times. If the dough is fighting you allow the dough to continue resting at room temperature until the gluten has relaxed enough to allow the dough to be rolled out. Have your cornstarch ready because the noodles once cut like to stick together.
- Using a very sharp knife, make cuts on one end of the dough completely through all of the layers. These cuts will create your noodles. Take care to uncoil the noodles and place them on a sheet tray dusted with cornstarch. Continue this process until all of the noodles have been cut.
- I like to divide up the noodles into glass jars with spices, a bouillon cube and fresh veggies to create your perfect ramen bowl on the go. If you intend to use the noodles immediately simply start a pot of boiling water and flash boil the noodles for about 5 minutes before adding toppings.
Bergen, Molly. “What You Need to Know about Palm Oil – in 5 Charts.” Conservation International, 4 Oct. 2016, www.conservation.org/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-palm-oil-in-5-charts.
“Which Everyday Products Contain Palm Oil?” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/pages/which-everyday-products-contain-palm-oil.
“What Is Palm Oil?” Green Palm – Supporting Sustainable Palm Oil, greenpalm.org/about-palm-oil/what-is-palm-oil.
“Instant Noodles at a Glance.” Instant Noodles at a Glance | World Instant Noodles Association., instantnoodles.org/en/noodles/report.html.