Week 2- Palm Oil Challenge: Say No to Chains!

Week 2 into my challenge for removing palm oil from my life. Hard to believe it has been two weeks with ALMOST no palm oil. Almost, because it is important to use the items in my cabinet, fridge, bathroom and laundry before replacing them. Trashing the items containing palm oil in my possession, would certainly be an injustice to the orangutans killed in the name of palm oil!

In today’s, post I wanted to focus on the highlights from my challenges this last week,  and my reasons for supporting local, quirky Cafés.

Week 2 – The Challenges

Chain (fast-food and coffee) business models are riddled with palm oil. It may come as no surprise to you by now, that I do not step foot inside Subways, Taco Bells, Macdonalds’, and more recently Starbucks. In fact, I would rather lose my appetite.

Long before I truly understood the environmental impact of chain restaurants, my mother cooked nearly every meal my siblings and I ate. She avoided fast food, the way a fly avoids swatting hands. I have grown to realize this incredible blessing. Insert <Mother, so many thanks for this gift!!!>

I cannot advocate enough for the positive impact preparing my own food brings into my life everyday. It saves me money, it helps the environment, and most importantly my manic kitchen creations are delicious!

Our spice cabinets are not immune to palm oil.

Cooking our own food eliminates most edible sources of palm oil. However, palm oil can still find it’s way into our kitchens in unexpected ways. For example, Monday night, I was preparing my dinner and lunch for the following two days. I had the rice cooking on the stove.

Unsuspecting, I opened my spice cabinet and reached for my arsenal of spices. That night, cumin, curry, oregano, black pepper AND… vegetable stock!

Moral of this story? Our spice cabinets are not immune to palm oil. Stock is easy enough to make and produces an outcome far better than store-bought dehydrated stock!

The Challenge continues when you are sick!

 As  you may know from my last Fruit for Thought, Go Home Earth– You’re Under the Weather!, I have been sick. Now, after laryngitis and with my voice on the mend, my glorious vocals are audible once more.

Santiago sits in a valley and most days a thick smog haze hovers over the city vista. My throat, still very raw, is extra sensitive to the polluted air of the Santiago streets. Here, I would tell any skeptics toward the impact our traffic to look at the silhouette of most metropolitan horizons. What is looming in the air?

During my sickness, the quest to no palm oil is as pertinent as ever. Check your cough syrup! Not only does it have palm oil it is loaded with dangerous chemicals. Look out for my post Cough Syrup Anyone?

Determined to avoid palm oil and the chemicals in cold medicines, I made my own natural treatments for my throat and cough. Ginger, mint, lemon, thyme, black pepper, and honey are powerful natural treatments for cough and throat pain. Using various combinations I made myself homebrewed infusions several times each day. Check out this fantastic page by Everyday Roots for natural, sore-throat remedies. Also I just bought Claire’s book Everyday Roots, featuring hundreds of natural remedy, beauty, and household tutorials to remove toxic and processed chemicals from our lives. I absolutely recommend!

Ditch the Chains for Quirky Cafes

Better Starbucks than McD’s. So what’s wrong with Starbucks?

Starbucks uses palm oil in their line of syrups, condiments, and food related products. Initially in 2015, Starbucks was under fire for making promises to commit to “sustainable” palm oil, while continuing to source unsustainable palm oil without licensing through RSPO. However, following numerous petitions from groups like SumofUs, Starbucks reformed it’s eco-commitment to sourcing deforestation free palm oil by 2020. In general, Starbucks has been recognized as one of the better corporations helping employees get an education through their college achievment program. And even more notably, in January 2017 Starbucks vowed to employee 10,000 Syrian Refugees  in the United States after Trump’s immigration bans.

So, everything I have said is a good thing… right? SO what is the bigger issue? It is true, that Starbucks has better ethics than most chain food and corporate companies. But, being better than the rest does not sum to greatness. Remember in my posts, The Devastation that is the Palm Oil Industry and There is Blood in our Cosmetics?

There is no such thing as sustainably sourced palm oil that meets corporation needs. There is simply not enough deforestation free palm oil to supply the growing demand. This all coupled with the fact, fast food and Starbucks chains contribute hugely to pollution. Consider the shear amount of disposable waste with every cup, lid, and stir stick! Plastic utensils? To-go containers?

Solution! Do not support chained palm oil. And truthfully everything you gain from eating, shopping, and drinking at local businesses cannot be captured in a BIG “capitalized” business anyway. Living in Santiago there is no excuse for getting a coffee at Starbucks. There are hundreds of cafes with scrumptious food, delightful atmosphere, and beautiful staff! Not to mention, the drink and food is often cheaper than a Starbucks latte.

Mosaics of Santiago: the Café Scene

I am fortunate to live in a wonderful part of Santiago close to Barrio Italia. Within twenty minutes walk of my house there are a plethora of cafeterias, artisanal shops, and outdoor markets. I chose this area by the suggestion of a beautiful friend I made here in chile. And I love it! Here are three of my regular cafes:




If we look in the right nook, every city is densely packed with culture, food and art. I found my cranny in Santiago, and I urge you to venture away from familiar chains into those more exotic places. More often than not you will discover a wonderful space. And, independent of that, it will always be an experience:


So the take away! Ditch the chains and let Starbucks go. Leave behind questionable ethics for the artful, quirky, and local Baristas! It is old news that supporting your local businesses, rather than corporate and chain, supports the economy. BUT… The benefits of supporting local shops are not simply economic they are ethical!


So as you head into this new week, look out for that palm oil. And maybe as you read the next post ponder the beautiful atmosphere and espresso behind my lovely words to you. Have a memorable day!



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