Flip-Flopping on Fats

Health and sustainability concerns drive the two largest donut chains to change their policies on palm oil.

Illustration by Addison Eaton

Last week, Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme both announced intentions to revise their buying policies on palm oil, and ethical donut gobblers across the nation rejoiced. Cultivation of the oil, used not only in frying donuts but also in a vast number of other global foods and consumer goods, is implicated in rampant deforestation and workers’ rights abuses, coating every cruller with an unappetizing sprinkling of guilt. So the donut world’s decision to source only from certified ethical and sustainable suppliers, part of an expanding market reaction against the oil’s evils, feels to many like a significant everyday victory for conscious consumerism. But for many others, the decision just raises the question of why we were so blithely using such a seemingly destructive product in our food for so long. The answer isn’t that we were duped (although palm oil does disguise itself in products). We turned to palm oil because, thanks to years of conditioning and demonization, we’ve learned to fear most other fats.

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