With all the hype in the coconut market, there is an element to the madness that is often forgotten.
Actually, forgotten is the wrong term – no one has a clue about it. There are a growing number of brands using coconut oil in their products, and even they don’t know what is going on.
Coconut oil, specifically, has become one of the hottest products in the world. First touted for its amazing nutritional and health benefits, the nectar of tropical island gods is now widely known as the panacea of a personal care regiment.
Celebrities like Miranda Kirr, Emma Stone, and Mandy Moore endorse the benefits, with quotes like “I don’t go a day without coconut oil”, “I take off my makeup with coconut oil”, and “To take care of my body, I’m an organic coconut oil girl, I put it on right after the shower”.
Do a twitter search for coconut oil and you’ll find a trillion posts …”miracle oil”, “coconut oil secret exposed”, “I just bought the 600 litre tub of coconut oil at costco for $6”, “coconut oil saved my life”, “I’m going to deliver my first born into a tub of coconut oil”.
Body care, hair treatments, oil pulling kits, shampoo & conditioner, soap, cleaning products, chapstick, tanning oil…Everyone wants coconut products.
While Kapuluan doesn’t support the over exaggeration of the benefits of coconut oil, ever since we discovered it on a small island in the Philippines, our way of life has changed. It has allowed us to improve our health and wellness, rid of numerous chemical ridden products, travel lighter, and live a more minimalistic and simple lifestyle. Using an all natural product from one of our favorite fruits just seems too good to be true.
In a way, it is.
While everyone is taking selfies of their white teeth, replacing their problematic boyfriends with coconut oil, and going crazy over their beautifully soft and healthy looking skin, there is not a mention of where the product came from, or how it ended up on their counter…or in an inflatable flamingo in their swimming pool.
In the Philippines, the world’s largest producer of coconut oil, over 60% of coconut farmers live in extreme poverty. The coconut farmers responsible for the coconut oil on your shelf, or in your favorite coconut products are trapped in a vicious cycle of industrial agriculture, at the terminal end of a production system for one of the world’s most popular products. The popularity and price increase in the retail sector does not mean a higher wage, or a higher value for the farmers, who are often powerless to negotiate with traders and the handful of large corporations dominating the market.
Many additional issues plague the industry; old trees result in declining yields, powerful typhoons destroy crops, and lack of incentive or financial compensation for planting new trees, further threaten their way of life.