Palmoil is a particularly important ingredient in Igbo cooking.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR AN IGBO GIRL WHO JUST EMBRACED VEGANISM?
AM I CONTRIBUTING HARM BY COOKING WITH PALMOIL?
These and many other questions plagued me as I have eaten palm oil all my life and it was in all the food I loved growing up. This led to my research. Even though the actual plant is vegan, the use of Palm oil is controversial amongst vegans with many striving to avoid it. It was disheartening to read about the terrible deforestation and displacement of orangutans going on in South Asia. All the burning down causing carbon pollution. Having said this, it is important to understand the following:
What is Palm oil?
Palm oil is oil from oil plant fruit tree (Elaeis Guineensis). Two types of oil can be produced from Oil palm tree.
- Pressed/Crude palm oil that comes from squeezing the fruit. This is commonly called red oil due to its red colour. This is the type used for Igbo cooking. So, when we mention palm oil, this is the type we are talking about.
- Palm kernel oil which comes from crushing the kernel. This is the type the more commercialised type.
In Igbo traditional medicine, all parts of the plant are used for treatment. The most common is treating burns and improving skin conditions.
Palm trees are local to Igboland.
There are usually palm oil farms rather than plantations. It is an uncommon practice to destroy forest by burning just to plant . Palm fruits usually just fall of the trees and start growing wherever they fall.