Wendy’s, originator of the “Where’s the beef” catchphrase and home of the unparalleled and delicious Frosty, just came out with some new information on their palm oil sourcing plans. But much like their famed 80’s commercials in which cute senior citizens find themselves unable to locate the tiny slice of beef on a giant bun, I’m having trouble finding any real reason to celebrate Wendy’s new palm oil commitment. In fact, I keep rereading their website, searching for more substance. Read More
June 25th, 2015
June 16th, 2015
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today moved to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oils, the main dietary source of artificial trans fats, after determining they are not safe to use in food. This move is hardly surprising, given that in November of 2013, the FDA made this preliminary determination. The announcement by the FDA likely means an increased amount of palm oil (a trans fat-free vegetable oil) in the diet of Americans and an opportunity for companies to source only palm oil that is deforestation and peat-free. Read More
June 8th, 2015
In early April I wrote a blog post on the U.S. INDC (“Intended Nationally Determined Contribution”) which was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). I focused on how it treated the land sector (agriculture and forests). In mid-April this analysis, along with similar consideration of the INDCs of Mexico and the European Union, was written up in a White Paper, and a few days ago we presented the results of this White Paper at a UNFCCC side event in Bonn.
Later in April, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Senior Presidential Advisor Brian Deese announced the Department of Agriculture’s Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry. In this blog post I’ll describe those building blocks, as well as the elements of the President’s Climate Action Plan (released in June 2013) that relate to the land sector.
May 20th, 2015
Procrastination is a funny thing. While procrastination is theoretically acknowledged to be negative, people seem to delight in the concept. The internet is full of commentary on procrastination from web comics to a classification system to funny sayings. In fact, I bet a number of you just might be reading this blog to procrastinate some other work – am I right?! Read More
Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on McDonald’s Door: How UCS and Others Helped Secure Deforestation-Free Palm Oil Commitments
April 21st, 2015
Making social and political change sometimes feels like walking down a long corridor and knocking on door after door; there is no way of knowing in advance which will open, and many turn out to be locked. But if you keep knocking long, hard, and creatively enough, a door will eventually spring open, and if you seize that moment, you can make the change you seek. Read More
April 2nd, 2015
Every time I visit my hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I go out for pizza with my parents. You’d think I’d be jonesing for a local pizza joint, but the truth is I want Pizza Hut. I grew up on their pan crust cheese pizza and it will always have a special place in my heart (and stomach!). So when I heard that Yum! Brands, Inc (Yum!), owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell and America’s second largest fast food chain had come out with a new palm oil commitment, I was pretty happy. Read More
Not Where You Expected to Find Deforestation?: Examining the Palm Oil Commitments of 40 of America’s Top Companies
April 1st, 2015
A lot can change in a year.
Thirteen months ago, UCS released a report scoring 30 of America’s top companies’ palm oil commitments. Since that time a lot of things have happened, both good and bad. Back then, nobody knew that Meghan Trainor was all about that bass or how fancy Iggy Azalea is. We are one step closer to buying Cuban cigars on American soil and a machine landed on a comet! Read More
March 26th, 2015
Growing up, Back to the Future Part II epitomized what the future would look like. I dreamed of owning a hoverboard or riding in a flying car (it didn’t have to be a DeLorean, I wasn’t that picky). Well, that distant future of flying cars, dehydrated food, and self-drying clothes takes place in 2015, so the future is now.
However, on a recent viewing of the film what caught my attention wasn’t the hoverboards or holograms but a drink that Marty McFly orders at a diner. That drink: Pepsi Perfect. Through the work I’ve done investigating companies’ links between deforestation and palm oil, I’ve learned a lot about PepsiCo’s policies and asked myself how close is the real PepsiCo to being “Pepsi Perfect”? Read More
March 4th, 2015
On a recent trip to Singapore, after the day’s discussion about how best to stop deforestation in Southeast Asia had ceased and the jet-lag was just beginning to take a hold of me, I hopped into bed to fall asleep. Or probably more accurately, I collapsed into bed. I turned on the television and what I saw on the screen was surprising. Read More
February 26th, 2015
For many years, small farmers in developing countries have been blamed for deforestation because of the way that they make breakfast. While in developed countries nearly everyone cooks with fossil fuels, or with electricity generated by fossil fuels or hydroelectricity, in developing countries firewood still predominates, especially among the poorest people in rural areas. But is this really an important driver of deforestation—and thus a major contributor to global warming? A new study—the most in-depth and comprehensive look at the subject yet—says no.