Planet Palm: How Palm Oil Ended Up in Everything and Endangered the World
Jocelyn Zuckerman, Hurst, £20.00
Palm oil is in everything. Going by dozens of different names, from the unpronounceable palmitoyl oxostearamide to the seemingly innocuous ‘vegetable oil’, it has made its way into our favorite snacks, shampoos, detergents and fuel tanks in the form of biodiesel.
Producing more oil per acre than any other crop, palm oil’s efficiency and versatility – it is shelf stable, semi-solid at room temperature, odourless and colourless – is what makes it so ubiquitous. Up to 50 per cent of packaged food contains it.
Yet with recent consumer campaigns urging us to shake our fists at companies that cut down virgin rainforest to allow its cultivation, palm oil’s secret is out, although the depths that this dark trade is prepared to sink to are only just beginning to come to light.