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From: Bryanna (NewVeggies.vegsource.com)
Subject:         Re: Earth Balance
Date: March 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm PST

In Reply to: Earth Balance posted by Ashu on March 13, 2010 at 1:27 pm:

Hi, Ashu! Actually, if you go to the 4th tab from
the left on the home page, which reads
"discussion", you'll come to a page with a list of
the forums on the right. This forum is listed as
"New veggies". Also, on many of the pages, there is
a drop-down menu at the left of the page, with links
to the discussion forums, and this one is also
listed under "New veggies".

About Earth Balance: it is my understanding that
only a small amount of palm oil is used in Earth
Balance to "fractionate" the liquid oils, a process
used instead of hydrogenation. (Fractionation is a
simple mechanical process that involves chilling the
oil [usually palm oil] until its content of
saturated fats hardens. This portion, or fraction,
is then filtered out and blended with liquid oils to
achieve the desired consistency.) Liquid oil makes
up the majority of the fat in Earth Balance.

I wonder if there is some other type of oil that
could be used in making Earth Balance, or would that
just create another environmental problem? That's
another reason (besides health) why I think it's
generally a good idea to use very moderate amounts
of fat in cooking. Perhaps there's some other
entirely different method being worked on? It
might be worth it if some of us queried the Earth
Balance people on this.

About substitutes, I've been doing a little
experimenting, and I'd love to hear about other
people's experiments. Oil is oil when it comes to
calories and fat grams. The main problem with
coconut oil is saturated fats (and maybe there is a
coming crisis in coconut oil, with all the mis-
placed hype about it! see
http://www.bryannaclarkgrogan.com/page/page/2264686.
htm#101366 ). We could try a.) frozen oil instead
of shortening-- it doesn't totally freeze, but it is
easier to work with; or b.), a combination of oil
and coconut oil, frozen-- that would be more solid.
The main problem is that "buttery" taste.

At Seattle VegFest in March 2008 I saw this product,
"Bella Diva's Vegan Savory and Sweet Butters", made
with whipped almond oil and cocoa butter blended
with "specialty" flavors.

However, their website is gone, so I guess it didn't
do well. The cocoa butter has a distinctive
aftertaste that perhaps some people disliked. It
sounds like something one could do at home, but you
would need a source of fair trade organic cocoa
butter. That might be hard for the average
consumer. I can't find cocoa butter around here at
all anymore. The cosmetic industry is using this
product more and more, which perhaps makes it harder
to find.

I still use Earth Balance in small amounts as I
search for a suitable alternative in terms of taste
and health (saturated fats being the big one). In
our daily diet, we don't spread it on bread or toast
or potatoes, etc.. We use low-sugar jam, tofu
spreads, or nut butter, or my low-fat gravy, etc..
In baking, I use oil whenever possible, and I
generally use applesauce for about 2/3 to 3/4 of the
fat in recipes (and use pastry flour to make a
tender product).

I cook with olive oil most of the time (I use it in
place of ghee in Indian cooking, too), and also use
some peanut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil and
canola oil in small amounts. I use all fats in
moderation-- as little as possible depending on the
result I want. This is especially so since my
husband and I both been have to watch our weight and
consequently try to eat very little fat of any kind.
However, I do develop recipes that I use only
occasionally for the general vegan public that
contain more fat than we would normally eat.

I use hard shortening (the non-hydrogenated kind
made from palm oil) very seldom. In Christmas
cookies, for instance, I use cold Earth Balance
spread instead. In an instance where only a hard
shortening will do (infrequent in my household), I
can use cold coconut oil (the solid kind) instead.
The calories are the same, and both oils contain
alot of saturated fats. However, since I use this
type of fat so seldom, for instance, at Christmas,
this is not be a big problem for us.

It is my understanding that a very large proportion
of the palm being grown for oil now is bio-fuel.
Here is an article about this:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/apr/04/en
ergy.indonesia

I strongly disagree with the idea of growing food
crops for bio-fuel! Here in Canada, wheat farmers
are being lured by big dollars into growing low-
quality wheat for biofuel instead of high-quality
wheat for food. In the rainforests, trees are cut
down to grow soy-- for bio-fuel as well as animal
feed.

Evidently, there is some work being done to grow
sustainable palm oil. I don't know too much about
it, but here is some info:
http://www.rspo.org/resource_centre/RSPO%20Principle
s%20&%20Criteria%20Document.pdf

I think we need to be vigilant about not eating junk
foods (even health-food-store type of junk foods!)
and packaged foods with palm oil, and writing to
companies urging them to use liquid oils. This is
going to be a big problem in Canada when the
legislation about no trans-fats in foods comes into
law, next year, I think. We should also not use
cosmetics that use palm oil.

The use of palm for fractionated oil for Earth
Balance seems to me to be a drop in the bucket
compared with the bio-fuel industry, and the junk
food industry, but I can see that it might be part
of the problem.

There is also alot of hype about red palm oil, which
is supposed to be sustainably produced, but the only
information about that is from the producer, so I
don't totally trust it. Also, all the stuff about
it providing nutrition is misleading. It is touted
as a good source of vitamin A, but do we need to eat
more fat than we do already just to get vitamin A?
A good vegetarian/vegan diet full of leafy green
vegetables and orange and red vegetables gives us
more than enough vitamin A with many other
nutrients, fiber, and no fat!

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