The week a huge blast o’blasphemy rattled across France. Was it the Pope’s declaration on climate change? Was it gangs of pickpockets raiding the Eiffel Tower? Nope. It was a call to stop eating Nutella.
A Little About Nutella
For those of you who don’t know what Nutella is, well, I pity you and wonder what rock you’ve been living under. Nutella is a chocolate spread with yummy hazelnuts worked into the goo. It’s hugely popular as a breakfast and snack food in Western Europe (France and Germany rank as the top two Nutella-consuming countries in the world).
Like so many tasty treats, Nutella has its dark side. It’s loaded with sugar, it’s full of mostly empty calories (the hazelnuts do add a tiny bit of protein and vitamins), and it’s also made spreadable by an overwhelming amount of fat in the form of palm oil. And that’s the problem.
What’s the Deal with Palm Oil?
Environmental groups and animal activists have been rallying for a while now about banning or at least making more sustainable the production of palm oil. And now France’s ecology minister, Ségolène Royal (I know, the French have THE coolest names), is begging people to stop eating palm oil-laden Nutella.
See, palm oil doesn’t just drip out of palm trees like syrup drizzling out of a maple tree. Instead, entire forests are felled to grow palm tress, which not only creates the problems of clear cutting and monoculture, but also destroys the habitat of cute forest critters such as the orangutan. Thanks to all our other human encroachments and bad habits, these charming primates are struggling for survival. So, seriously, I know Nutella is deliciously addictive, but it’s not good enough to make it worth killing off an entire species.
There are Alternatives
Now, let me add another layer of blasphemy on top of the ecology minister’s request to stop eating Nutella: There are other chocolate-hazelnut spreads out there….and they’re really good, even (wait for it, wait for it), yes, even better than Nutella. I know, half of France just had heart failure.
Nutella is good, but to me has always had a bit of an “old” flavor to it. Even a new jar tastes like it’s been open for a few months. The Faux-Nutellas all taste fresh and the chocolate and hazelnut flavors are perfectly balanced and quite rich.
Even better, most of these off-brand Nutella wannabes have an organic version that doesn’t cost much more than the “normal” version. Every ingredient from the sugar to the vegetable oil to the chocolate to the hazelnuts is organic. And no palm oil is used. (My favorite is the Simple Truth brand.).
A Little Change Means Nutella AND Orangutans!
So rather than go to the extreme and ban Nutella from the European breakfast table, perhaps the Ferraro company (which makes Nutella) should consider what other companies have already discovered: You can have your chocolate hazelnut spread (and eat it, too) without killing off charming forest creatures.
Or perhaps the French should stop worrying and learn to love the peanut butter. It’s not only tasty, but also far more nutritious than Nutella and has only a single, easy-to-grow ingredient that can be locally sourced.
What do you love to slather on your toast and cookies, or just eat straight from the jar? Share your thoughts and preferences!