By Jessica Serrante

When I’m explaining the problems with palm oil to folks who are new to the issue, I often say that I am almost impressed at how many things this industry has managed to get wrong.  The palm oil industry is enslaving workers and children, destroying forests that are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, and the climate pollution that comes from clearing the peatland rainforests that are replaced with palm oil plantations is greater than the entire US transportation sector.

I’m proud to say that this issue is getting more and more of the attention it deserves and that the RAN Conflict Palm Oil campaign is driving unprecedented changes in this awful industry. Slowly but surely change is happening, but there are still a lot of folks, including the decision makers at Snack Food 20 laggard company Hillshire Brands, that aren’t taking the threats of Conflict Palm Oil seriously.  

This month, palm oil activists around the country brought their communities together to make a statement to Hillshire Brands (creators of Sara Lee packaged pies and cakes) that the Conflict Palm Oil in its products has got to go now.

Here are some of their stories:

At Green Lake in Seattle, LeAnn Fox brought together a group of folks including the local group of the inspiring Raging Grannies to march around the lake asking people to make phone calls to Hillshire Brands. Together they generated dozens of calls and photo petitions and informed Seattle locals about the problems with Conflict Palm Oil and our demands of Hillshire Brands.


At the Venice boardwalk in Los Angeles, Shannen, Danny and the LA Palm Oil Action Team partnered with the the local “L.A. for Bernie Sanders” group. The group had intended to generate phone calls to Hillshire Brands, but the company’s voicemail had already been flooded by calls from other activists around the country. Quick to adapt, the team improvised and got around 100 photo petitions which they tweeted at Sara Lee.


Becky, a high school student in Orange County, CA, and her team of 11 palm oil activists talked to other teenagers in their community who got fired up about the impacts of Conflict Palm Oil and called Hillshire Brands to demand that the company cut it out of its supply chain immediately!


Lindsay and the Boston Palm Oil Action Team took to the Boston Common to celebrate World Orangutan Day and put pressure on Hillshire Brands. Despite having their event cut short by the rain, the activists got 25 letters written to the company and a ton of enthusiastic support from the many Bostonians who they talked to.


Anna, Kathy and the amazing Tempe, AZ, Palm Oil Action Team braved the 115 degree heat to take action last week. The team of 5 passionate activists set up shop outside of a local bookstore to generate 40+ calls to the company, 17 handwritten letters and a handful of photo petitions.


Hillshire Brands still hasn’t gotten back to RAN about its status as one of the biggest laggards in the Snack Food 20 group of companies. Stay tuned… we’ll let you know soon about more ways that you can help RAN pressure the company to do the right thing and cut Conflict Palm Oil.

Thanks to the committed activists who organized these events! If you find yourself inspired to take on more in the fight for forests, we’d love to have you join our Palm Oil Action Team as well! For more on the Palm Oil Action Team including how to join, click here or check out our video below.