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Ingredient: Sustainable Organic Palm Shortening

For a start, Palm Shortening is NOT the same as vegetable shortening!

Palm shortening is actually just palm oil with some of its unsaturated fats removed. This gives it a high smoke point of over 230°C (great for baking and frying), and makes it shelf stable (doesn't turn rancid). It is NOT hydrogenated, and doesn't have any trans fats. ;)

It composes of 42% monounsaturated fat, 8% polyunsaturated fat, and 50% saturated fat. It's perhaps the best solid fat you could get here. ;)

There is a misconception that replacing palm oil with other oils is better for the planet. The oil palm is a highly productive plant that has a much higher yield than other oilseed crops (about 4 - 10 times more oil per hectare). Replacing palm oil with other oils would actually require much larger amounts of land to be used, resulting in serious environmental damage as more forests are cleared to supply the same amount of oil. Boycotting palm oil would simply mean shifting the problem to another commodity, and at a larger scale.

Many people think of soybean oil as a good alternative. However, it's not only less efficient, but also requires more fertilisers, pesticides, and energy input per hectare.

Oil palms can stay productive for about 30 years. The soil in oil palm plantations is rich in organic content and is less disrupted compared to other oil crops where highly destructive ploughing of the soil is required every year.

Furthermore, oil palm cultivation has lifted millions out of poverty. In fact, there are about 3 million smallholder growers, nearly all of whom farm individual family-owned plots.

What needs to be done is all of us choosing to use sustainably-grown palm oil instead of switching away from palm oil. We can break the link between palm oil and deforestation.

The organic palm shortening we use in Bakening is fully sustainable (certified by the Rainforest Alliance, Ecocert, RSPO with traceability tools, social and environmental management plans) from small-scale family farms in the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia.

Other than protecting the environment and wildlife, RSPO further stipulates a significantly reduced use of pesticides and fires; fair treatment of workers according to local and international labour rights standards; the need to inform and consult with local communities before the development of new plantations on their land.

Our health isn't all just about eating right. Our environment matters too, because we live in it (pollution = toxins), breathe it in (remember the haze?) and interact with in constantly.

We believe in making responsible choices. In Bakening, we happily pay a premium for organic palm shortening that is good for the earth and the people.


Information from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a not-for-profit organisation that conducts independent audits on palm oil producers.


Other interesting reads:

The Guardian: Why rush to source alternatives to palm oil is problematic

Conservation International: Why palm oil isn’t the enemy

Smithsonian: Giving Up Palm Oil Might Actually Be Bad for the Environment