This post was originally published on April 28, 2017 and updated on June 2, 2020.

A meal outdoors is even more enjoyable when you’re consuming forest-friendly foods. Forests are important to our health and our planet. In addition to absorbing carbon dioxide and pumping out clean, fresh oxygen, forests provide homes for animals, help combat erosion, help cool the Earth and provide us with nutritious food. Thankfully, packing a forest-friendly picnic basket is getting much easier. Many manufacturers are choosing to include Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil in their products. This natural, non-GMO oil is getting rave reviews for its earth friendliness.

Here’s why:

  • Palm oil production has less environmental impact than other oil crops. Palm oil is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree. This majestic, tropical beauty grows for nearly 25 years and produces bountiful amounts of oil-rich fruit. Researchers say perennial crops such as oil palm help feed our world with significantly less environmental impact than annual crops. Because of their extensive root system, perennial crops minimize erosion. They also require less water and help create a stable ecosystem by providing homes for wildlife.
  • Oil palm plantations consume less land than other oil crops. The major edible oil crops use 3.55 percent of the world’s total agricultural land, with soybean fields consuming more than half of that land. Oil palm trees, however, cover just 0.23 percent of the world’s farmland, yet produce the highest yield of oil. A single acre of oil palm produces 11 times more oil than a soybean field, 10 times more than sunflower and 7 times more than rapeseed (canola).
  • Malaysia excels at preserving forests. Some palm oil-producing countries struggle to maintain forested lands. Malaysia, however, is committed to conservation. An FAO report shows that Malaysia had 22 million hectares under forest cover in 2015, roughly the same as in 1990. This is an astonishing 67.6 percent of the country’s land. The United States has just 33.8 percent of its land under forest cover. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, illegal deforestation happens all over the world, including the United States. Malaysia’s level of illegal logging, however, is much lower than other tropical countries and more closely aligned to the European Union and U.S.

Show your love for the forests by packing foods made with earth-friendly Malaysian certified sustainable palm in your picnic basket. One more tip: Opt for cheese sandwich instead of roast beef. A Climate Focus study identified beef as the agricultural commodity most closely linked to deforestation. Pigs and poultry were next on the list, followed by soybeans.

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