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Some days I get angry, do you want to know why?

Posted by Eddy Goseling on

Some days I get angry, do you want to know why?

Recently I had 2 (online) conversations with customers. They where very enthusiastic about all the things we do and create so that made me really happy. Then it came to the point that we use palm oil in our products, I got said things like ‘yakke’ and ‘unethical’ and then the conversations suddenly stopped. Of course I tried to give more information and have sent them the link for our blog about palm oil but never heard anything again. A part of me can understand that but another part thinks anyone should not be short-sighted but try to reach behind the popular stories. I mean; palm oil is a great product and we source it right. But defined as ‘vegetable oil’ you find it almost everywhere in your daily food and snacks…..coming from the pIantation harvest that endangers species! Think about that the next time you eat ice cream, chocolate, cookies, snacks, bread, instant noodles and even vegan cheese or using margarine! At the same time nobody questions anything about coconut oil…..strange so here is something to think over. 

If you love coconut oil, you might want to know about the sketchy ethics going on behind the scenes. In several places monkeys are trained to harvest coconuts and already since decades, which raises serious concerns. Learning about this made me more conscious of coconut oil companies because let’s be real: we’re dealing with animal slavery. The pigtailed macaques are trained beginning at a young age and forced to learn how to climb up the tall coconut trees and break the heavy coconuts off. They’re chained by the neck during the whole process. I found this video which shows us a bit of the training involved:

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At 1:10, you can see the young monkey struggling and being forced into training.

At 3:42, we see the trained monkey handing the trainer his shoes, bringing the dynamic between the two closer to a master and slave relationship.

Let’s be honest at this; it ain’t ‘funny’ or so. People who refer to it like that take this practice really lightly. Although we don’t see any horrific forms of abuse in this short video, we can guess that the monkeys aren’t always treated well. What’s their reward? Are they working for no compensation? They’re doing all the hard labor in place of their trainers, who get paid in cash for the harvests, yet they’re denied even the coconuts that they pick.

In addition to this, these trained monkeys are sold for cash in the local market. Here is a picture of it showing a real distressed monkey.

We know that these monkeys are chained at all times, trained for hard labor, caged, and sold. If these monkeys were humans, we would all be quick to call it slavery. We also know that monkeys don’t necessarily have to be used in coconut farms. Adults can and do often perform this task, either by climbing the trees themselves or using long sticks.

By any standards using monkey’s for this purpose on coconut farms is very close to animal abuse. So what can we do about it?

  • Choose your coconut or coconut holding products wisely.
  • Make sure to buy coconut oil or products with coconut oil that doesn’t come from companies that use pigtailed macaques on their coconut farms. Not so easy,  I admit that. Unlike with Palm oil there are no certifications that guarantees the sustainability and fair-trade.

Did you know about this practice? I am sure you don’t want to engage in this type of harvest. Like you don’t want to engage in plantation palm oil. I understand both.

Now I had this conversation by coincidence 2 times but how many times our staff members have to explain that we use the benefits from palm oil and support the small palm oil farmers and their family at the same time? We do have the certification of Green Palm Sustainability. We are the opinion that’s ethical!

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