Day 11 – Dying for a biscuit

No, not me. I’ve reached a point where I’m not really bothered about biscuits any more. I wouldn’t have thought that I would ever really reach this state of nirvana, but my “iron will power” (if such a thing could ever exist) has been re-inforced by the BBC TV’s Panorama programme.

Thanks to the technological miracles of BBC i-Player and Virgin Media cable telly, Sue and I caught up with last week’s Panorama programme during today. The programme title was “Dying for a biscuit” and as the documentary unfolded, I was appalled at the way that the western world’s demand for one of the key ingredients of, not only biscuits, but a wide range of our foods, from soap to fish fingers, is damaging the environment on the far side of the world.

Of course, I had heard about illegal logging of rainforests, so it was no real surprise that this is happening in Indonesia. However, I was surprised to discover that this is happening so that the rain forest can be replaced by huge areas of monoculture to produce palm oil.

Although the packs in our supermarkets may say “Vegetable Oil”, much of this is actually palm oil.

If it isn’t bad enough that the rain forest is being destroyed, it seems that the forests of Indonesia are home to one of mankind’s closest relatives, the Orangutan. It was pitiful to see these magnificent, intelligent creatures being dispossessed of their habitat. It was bad enough to see them being transported in cages to a sanctuary, but the final shot in the film was one of the most poignant moments of television that I have seen in a long time. It was a shot of a burned out area of forest with a few isolated trees with charred trunks and no branches sticking up into the air. However, it was not just the trees, but the silhouette of an orangutan climbing one of these dead trees that brought a lump to my throat.

I know that I can’t stop using products containing palm oil, but I hope that Panorama has made a contribution to raising awareness of the facts. Maybe this post has also done a little bit as well.  I’m certainly not dying for a biscuit, but the orangutan may well be.

If this animal becomes extinct because of our greed for custard creams we should all feel ashamed.

Ride Safe
Dave

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