It seems unrealistic that the oil of a fruit can keep ice-cream from melting, can make cookies healthier, can make a lipstick smoother, can benefit health and can even be used as a fuel. How crazy it might sound, this oil is very much real and it’s called palm oil. But what exactly is palm oil?
Palm oil is an oil derived from the fruit of the oil palms. The oil palm tree grows in tropical climates, and it is believed that it has been used by humans since 3000 BCE. Some thousand years later on it’s been widely recognized in African countries as a cooking oil. European merchants occasionally brought some of the oil to Europe for it to be used for the same purpose. Palm oil became especially popular when it was used as an industrial lubricant for machinery during Britain’s Industrial Revolution, and the oil is still widely used today.
What is palm oil? Palm oil is known as world’s most versatile and vegetable oil. For that reason, it is used in more products than you would expect. You might’ve guessed that it is used in food and snacks, and you would definitely be right. Palm oil is a cheap substitute for butter, for that reason, it often makes its way into pastry dough. It is even believed to help with weight loss. However, it is used in many other markets as well. You probably have never realized it, but around 70% of all personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, makeup and lotions contain palm oil. Although, it’s very rarely obvious that these products contain the oil because it is often referred to with a different name. But that’s still not all that the oil is used for. Palm oil is used to produce biodiesel too. Almost half of all the palm oil Europe had in 2014 was used for fuel!
As we know now, palm oil has become an essential substance in today’s world. The question remains, however, how did we become so reliant on it? The answer to that is rather simple. Industries adopted the oil to replace it with the ingredients they used before and just never turned back. Now it’s so deeply embedded in the consumer economy that it would be an incredibly difficult task to stop using it.