Tag

christmas

Food & Drink, Winter

Where to Buy Palm Oil Free Mince Pies This Christmas

palm oil free christmas food

palm oil free christmas food

Crumbly pastry that melts in the mouth, juicy berries with a hint of spice, the tang of brandy.  Served hot and drizzled with cream, nothing quite says Christmas like a mince pie.  This seemingly simple festive snack is available in every supermarket, but it has a complex journey involving many people, businesses and resources.  But it’s a one ingredient – palm oil – which links this humble pie to deforestation, human rights abuses and climate change.

Georgina Rawes from Ethical Consumer looks into the issues behind palm oil production and shares her top five palm oil free mince pies.

The problem with palm oil

Palm oil is found in around half of all packaged foods and in many other household items, from cleaners to cosmetics.  It is cheap, widely available and solid at room temperature, making it an appealing fat for manufacturers to use.

In mince pies, palm oil is found in the vegetable suet used to make the mincemeat.  It gives the juicy filling the firm and creamy texture that we all love.  But, there is a bitter and unpleasant story behind this popular ingredient.

Over 90% of the world’s palm oil is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia, across 16 million acres of land.  As plantations grow to meet demand, they claim rainforest, razing them to gain valuable farmland.  In fact, palm oil plantations are one of the leading causes of deforestation, forcing indigenous people from their homes and threatening endangered species living in these diverse ecosystems.

As rainforests are cleared, carbon dioxide is released.  In fact, deforestation accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions and is a major contributor to global warming.

This in particularly pronounced in Indonesia, as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) indicates that 98% of Indonesia’s rainforests may be gone in the next four years.

As well as the clear issues involved in deforestation, palm oil production is riddled with supply chain management issues.  There are an estimated 3.5 million workers employed on Indonesian and Malaysian plantations where child labour and modern-day slavery still occur.

What about sustainable palm oil?

Many products now state that they contain sustainable palm oil.  Whilst this seems to be a good thing, the reality is more complicated.

Certification groups, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) have been criticised for not going far enough to ensure that members are acting responsibly and there are RSPO members who have been exposed as having environmental abuses and human rights issues in their palm oil supply chains.  So, where products seem to contain sustainable palm oil that is not linked to deforestation, this might not actually be the case.  Action groups such as Sum of Us, are campaigning for RSPO to vote to adopt a no deforestation, no peatland, no exploitation certification system.

palm oil free mince pies

Picking the perfect palm oil free mince pie

Whilst campaigners continue to put pressure on the palm oil industry to clean up its act, we recommend avoiding this problem ingredient for now.  Happily, when it comes to mince pies, we have found a great palm oil free selection.  Check out of our top five palm oil free mince pies:

Waitrose Duchy Organic Mince Pies

Organic and made with sunflower oil instead of palm oil, these pies come in 100% recyclable packaging and are priced at £2.50 for four. Available from Waitrose online and in store.

Marks & Spencer Mini Mince Pie Selection

Perfect for parties, these mini versions of a classic come in three varieties.  They contain rapeseed oil and are suitable for vegetarians, and cost £16.00 for 36.  Available from Marks & Spencer online and in store.

Authentic Bread Company Luxury Mince Pies with All Butter Pastry

These handmade mince pies are equally at home on the dinner table as they are beside a cup of tea.  Beautifully finished, they are made with sunflower oil and are available through organic retailer Abel & Cole at £5.39 for a pack of six.

The Organic Collection Organic Mince Pies

These pies contain no additional fats in the mincemeat, only fruity fillings.  They are available through ethical online retailers Real Foodspriced at £5.95 for six pies.

Artisan Bread Organic Mince Pies

Organic, vegan and gluten-free, these mince pies tick all the boxes.  They contain no added sugar and are made with cold-pressed olive oil in place of palm oil.  Available online at Artisan Bread Organicat £5.25 for a pack of six.

For more information on palm oil, check out our full special report.  And to learn how to avoid palm oil in your Christmas shop, see our guide to a palm oil free Christmas.

Fashion, Life & Style, Special Occasions

Ethical Gift Ideas for Men With Brothers We Stand

brothers we stand shop

Sponsored post

I know I have already shared some ethical gift ideas on the blog this month, but what if you are still struggling for ideas for your significant other/dad/brother/best friend?  I know I certainly find men in particular difficult to shop for.

Thankfully ethical menswear retailer Brothers We Stand (who excitingly have just opened up their first physical store in Bristol’s Wapping Wharf after years of trading solely online) have handily put together an ethical gift guide for men.

If you have never heard of Brothers We Stand, they are a clothing retailer exclusively selling ethically produced menswear from a tightly curated collection of independent ethical brands and designers.

Every item they sell has undergone rigorous research by the Brothers We Stand team to ensure each product offered meets the highest design and ethical standards.  From what the clothes are made from; to how the clothes are made and by whom; and to how durable the clothes are, these are all key considerations made before any new product is stocked by Brothers We Stand.

All of this information is shared to shoppers through a unique tag telling the story of each item.  When you are browsing a particular item simply click on the ‘footprint’ section for a detailed rundown on what makes the item ethical and sustainable, and in some cases, where the item could be improved in the future.  Sometimes ethical shopping is all about compromise, and I really respect the fact that Brothers We Stand haven’t shied away from this fact.

Here are some of their top picks for ethical and sustainable gents this Christmas!

Recycled Card Holder

elvis kresse card holder

 

This beautiful double cardholder (£31) from Elvis & Kresse, is made from decommissioned British fire hoses and is lined with reclaimed parachute silk from the British military.  There’s a whole lot of recycling in there, and the finished piece is a thing of beauty.  And it’s even Oyster card friendly if your gent is London based.

Organic Jumper

ethical gift ideas for men

This GOTS certified organic cotton jumper (£87) is from Danish ethical brand DCA is ethical, sustainable and built to last.  It’s stylish and cosy and beats a novelty Christmas jumper hands down any day!

Organic Polo Shirt

KNOWLEDGE COTTON APPAREL ORGANIC PIQUE POLO

This 100% organic cotton polo-shirt (£50) is again from DCA, and is perfect for dapper gents interested in sustainable style.  Even the dye used is non-harmful, and they are dyed in modern dye houses focused on minimising water usage and responsible waste water treatment.  Two thumbs up!

Organic Socks

jollie socks

If you are looking for something less spendy then you can rarely go wrong with socks.  Especially with these organic cotton Jollie Socks (£14), which are made in the UK, and for every pair sold a pair is donated to a local homeless centre.

Organic Cotton Hoodie

silverstick hoodie

Finally, this lovely GOTS certified organic cotton hoodie (£59) is a midweight hoodie ethically made in Portugal by ethical manufacturers Silverstick.  With  doubleweight hood and reinforced pockets this hoodie will be sure to be a favourite for many many years to come.

Be sure to catch the full gift guide over at Bothers We Stand!