The truth is, it’s complicated. Easily grown. Versatile. In high demand as an ingredient for everything from chocolate bars to toothpaste to cosmetics and cooking, palm oil is a commodity feeding the voracious appetite of a growing population and driving economic prosperity for people and nations. But the cost is high. Oil palm trees thrive in the same places as the rainforests – the planet’s equatorial belt – and crop plantations are replacing critical habitat and the planet’s lungs at an alarming pace, exacting a high social and environmental price. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it. What are we to do? That’s the question conservationist Nadine Zamira Syarief is asking as she takes us to her native Indonesia to explore the large gap between the global community’s perception of palm oil and the views of her home country, the largest palm oil producer in the world. Follow her through the palm oil supply chain and beyond, as she seeks perspectives and answers from those, who like herself, have a stake in this story: the smallholders who have aspirations of a better life, palm oil producers at the cross hairs, a producing country government on a development path, and conservationists clinging to hope.
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