With both ingredients containing the word ‘palm’, it’s easy to see why they can get confused as one another. The harvesting of palm oil has been found to be unsustainable and damaging to rainforests and the environment. Here’s a little lesson on the effects of unethical palm oil harvesting.
However, does the harvesting of palm sugar have the same effect? No. Many established orangutan foundations note that palm sugar is not related to the deforestation for palm oil.
According to Food Renegade, palm sugar is produced and harvested completely differently to palm oil. Traditionally, palm trees that are older (50+ years) and produce less coconuts are retired to produce palm sugar. This offers many benefits for the local producers of palm sugar. There are less casualties from falling coconuts and more shade is offered.
The harvesting of palm sugar has also been found to be sustainable. Palm trees can create more sugar per acre than sugar cane (while using less water), meanwhile restoring damaged soil. Finally, research has found that palm trees do not have to be 50+ years for its flowers to produce sap for palm sugar. New non-traditional ways of producing palm sugar creates 5-7 times more sugar than traditional methods. That means yielding more sugar and decreasing damaging actions.
In conclusion, the harvesting of palm sugar and palm oil are not related. Palm sugar is not destructive to the environment like palm oil is and the two shouldn't be used interchangeably. You can sleep easy knowing that your Damn Sugar hot chocolate doesn't contain ingredients that are damaging to the environment!