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Taylor talks – Changing my supermarket

Ecology, Environments, Features, News / 21st December 2018

I will be honest. I am a huge food snob, as many of you who have eaten with me or been to Portugal with the Golf Environment Awards, may testify.


I regularly question the provenance of my food when I eat at a restaurant or buy from the supermarket. I presume the more expensive the product, or shop, the better quality it is. However, that is not always the case.


A number of years ago I took a holiday to the rainforests in Malaysia, Borneo. I started in Sandaken and ended in Sabah the home of the remaining Bornean populations of orangutan.


My first sight of the amazing Malaysian rainforests


Part of this trip involved a low level flight over the mountains and over the canopies of the rainforest. Whilst on the ground we found some amazing wildlife, but in the air I soon became sickened by the sudden end of the forests and the mile after mile of planted palm oil trees (Elaeis guineensis).


Borneo has a manifesto for rainforest removal and those responsible are tasked to replant. As is often the case this is only partly achieved, but for commercial reasons the trees are being replaced with palm oil trees.


So what’s the problem I hear you say.


Palm oil is a major contributor to the loss of our rainforests which in turn impacts on all of the wildlife including the forest elephants, apes and everything else. Today 4.49 million hectares of land in Malaysia is under oil palm cultivation; producing 17.73 million tonnes of palm oil. This is increasing daily. Palm oil is very widely used; it is a main component in foods such as frozen pizzas, chocolate, biscuits and margarine, as well as body creams, soaps, makeup, candles and detergents and that’s not all, you can read some more here.



So this is why I’m considering a supermarket switch this festive period. Specifically Iceland, a supermarket I have never visited in my life. This forward thinking supermarket chain has stopped selling their own brand products that previously contained palm oil.


This represents stopping a total annual use of 1,000 tonnes of palm oil. This sounds a lot but as Iceland have stated this quantity is small compared to what is being used by their competitors. So far, palm oil has been removed from over from 130 food products replacing it instead with more environmentally friendly alternatives such as sunflower oil.


Most people don’t understand the damage of palm oil but believe me it is massive. It is truly heartening that Iceland has taken this step, publicly stating the ban on palm oil use until it is proven that its use will not destroy more forests.


So my Christmas message – Have a very happy and feel-good festive season. “Give peace and Iceland a chance”.


All the very best and see you at BTME 2019.


Bob Taylor