Health food companies selling products with Conflict Palm Oil are called to address the Orangutan in the room. Last weekend, RAN took the truth on Conflict Palm Oil to the Expo West Natural Foods Conference in Anaheim, CA. A sea of 67,000 natural food industry exhibitors showcased everything from snackfood to health and beauty products. The majority of the companies attending market themselves as organic, vegan, healthy brands – but the truth is, many of them are still using Conflict Palm Oil in their products. If there was any doubt that Conflict Palm Oil and health food don’t mix, keynote speaker Dr. Andrew Weil, who has been writing about the dangers of trans fats for over 20 years, cleared that up during his packed presentation. “It’s important not to confuse healthy, raw palm oil with the highly processed versions that are commonly used in the industrially-produced packaged foods found in most American’s diets. These types of palm oil are unhealthy for the human body. And their irresponsible cultivation in tropical areas is unhealthy for the planet.” Dr. Weil’s statement serves as a warning to health food entrepreneurs who are considering increasing their use of Conflict Palm Oil – do not replace trans fats with Conflict Palm Oil. For me, the most inspiring moment was when keynote speaker and food movement author Raj Patel called on concerned citizens to stand up to injustice through organized political action, protests, and environmental campaigns – not just through conscious lifestyle choices and consumer purchases. Leading by example, Raj gave Strawberry the Orangutan the floor and collected an #inyourpalm photo petition from the audience. It was a call to join a movement whose influence is greater than what we can achieve through our personal choices. I couldn’t agree more with Raj’s powerful message. It’s your direct communication with corporate giants through Facebook, Twitter, emails, phone calls, stickering, and photo petitions that demonstrates to these companies that they can no longer get away with greenwashing tactics and using Conflict Palm Oil in their products. Like many Americans, the majority of the food that I was raised on was highly processed, coming directly from a box or a bag directly to the dinner table. As an adult, I strive to eat nutritious and minimally processed foods from my garden or the farmer’s market. I was a lifestyle activist who chose to fight big agribusiness by reading every label, when I began my 6 month internship with RAN. But since joining the Palm Oil Action Team, I have witnessed the true power of collective action and community organizing. It’s amazing that thousands of people like me have joined us to fight for an end to Conflict Palm Oil in our food supply. Our collective actions have real power and the more we organize, the stronger we grow, and the more change we drive in the palm oil industry. At Expo West, our movement to eliminate the rainforest destruction by Conflict Palm Oil grew stronger and gathered new voices. Musicians Michael Franti of “Michael Franti and Spearhead”, and Karl Denson of “Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe” pitched in. Both Franti and Denson have traveled extensively and seen first hand the devastation that Conflict Palm Oil has caused, and both were excited to take action with us before taking the stage. Check out their #inyourpalm photos! They weren’t alone in taking action – renowned mycologist Paul Stamets and wife Dusty Yao, who believe old growth forests are our greatest resource for medicine, also took a stand for the world’s last wild orangutans. Your voice gives this campaign the power to tell companies that health food and Conflict Palm Oil don’t mix. Whether you are passionate about fixing our broken food system, protecting biodiversity, or preventing forced labor, join Raj Patel, Michael Franti, and thousands of others by uploading your own #inyourpalm photo petition here. And to get even further involved, with local actions and more, join me and the rest of the Palm Oil Action Team here. Together, we can cut Conflict Palm Oil from our food supply.