Non Fiction

Planet Palm by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman


This is not a book that offers solutions to an existing problem. If that is something that one might expect going into this, they will be disappointed. It was an offhand comment at a cousin’s place a few years ago that had me keeping an ear on the ground for Palm oil and its pervasive presence in everything that we consume (processed things) – it was one of those numerous things that I was completely unaware of before that point. I, therefore, picked this up because it seemed to promise a history of things that came to be as convoluted as they are now. This is definitely something that it delivered for me.
I have since recommended this to people with even the slight tendency to read books of this ilk. I guess, with my review and this post, I am trying to do just that with a broader audience.
The author addresses the roots of the palm oil trade, from when it was once seen as an inferior item being used by people less ‘civilized’ to the role it now plays all over the world. It was only through hints I saw online and read about that I had previously abandoned my otherwise favourite Nutella and moved on to making my own hazelnut spread when I felt like it. I did not encounter a chapter on Nutella but did find the basis for where the news stemmed from.
The author did a great job addressing the position of countries reliant on this trade on the world order totem pole and what it would mean for them to ‘handle’ things and set the balance right. It is a book long in the making, with the author’s personal travels to central locations to the narrative over many years being described to hold the history together.
It was slow in parts but shocked me and informed me in equal measure. It is not surprising since the two emotions seem to be going hand in hand whenever I pick up a book like this. The numbers are devastating, and even the sustainable palm efforts are addressed in the book.
I cannot say much more about this because it is a collection of facts, and I think these are some of those facts that everyone should know so that they make an informed decision about their purchases/consumption. I must admit I liked the way the information was laid out to signify the perplexing situation the hardworking workers at the plantation find themselves in. There is no easy fix, but I sincerely hope the people working on this might come up with even a half-decent one!
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience of the book and my previous interest in the topic discussed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s