Support Human Rights with Unhealthy Cookies?

By Margaret Badore for

This past week I noticed a lot of friends posting on Facebook and Twitter about “Counter-Boycotting” the Girl Scouts by purchasing their signature cookies. Intrigued, I dug into the issue to discover that a Girl Scout troop in Colorado accepted a seven-year-old transgendered girl. This apparently outraged a number of conservative groups, who posted viral videos encouraging viewers to boycott the organization. Those who stand in solidarity with the Girl Scouts, and who generally want to promote the acceptance of trans-gendered people, have in turn launched the counter-boycott.

I think it’s awesome that Girl Scouts are supporting acceptance of a trans-gendered child, but I’m also not running out to buy cookies, not even just to taste the newly released Savannah Smiles. The Girl Scouts are an organization that teaches a lot of noble skills, but in a country that’s facing an unprecedented childhood obesity crisis, supporting them by purchasing unhealthy desserts no longer seems so wholesome.

It’s easy to criticize the nutritional value of Girl Scout cookies, because cookies are inherently high in sugar and fat. However, a look at the popcorn, kettle corn and trail mix sold by Trail’s End to support the Boy Scouts measures up little better. This is almost more disappointing because popcorn and trail mix could be healthy snacks, if it they’re not laden with other high-fat or high-sugar ingredients.

“What sticks out to me about the popcorn is the level of sodium in the product,” says Kati Mora, MS, RD, dietitian for and her practice Around the Plate. “At 320 milligrams per serving that is a little high and this could probably be reduced.” Popcorn is a whole grain and high in fiber, but a number of the products have artificial flavors and colors. The Classic Caramel Corn has three forms of sugar before the actual popcorn.

I am in no way staying that any child should be deprived of sweets, and even an occasional highly-processed sugar bomb won’t hurt. But let’s face it: these fundraisers are not about moderation. Troops and individual scouts get rewarded for selling more, and it’s not as if the scout who comes knocking at your door is going to point out that the 12 boxes of Thin Mints you just ordered should be consumed over a period of several months, not days or even weeks.

Part of being a scout is about having a healthy, active life, so shouldn’t their fundraisers send the same message? There are so many ways for organizations to raise money, that will teach kids the same valuable lessons about money management and promote good nutrition. What about taking the candy out of that trail mix, along with some of the sodium? What about selling dried fruit? They could even move away from food products altogether. Last year, we shared these ideas for healthier fundraisers, which include CSA memberships and sponsoring participants in fun runs and 5Ks.

I know that selling popcorn and cookies have long become part of the scouting tradition, but nostalgia isn’t a good enough reason to hang on to an unhealthy product. The event that sparked the counter-boycott campaign shows that the Girl Scouts are evolving, it’s time their fundraisers did too. If you want to support either scout organization, or even boycott a candy-fueled fundraiser at your child’s school, all of these organizations accept cash donations (and your money will go further, too!).

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Jo S.5 months ago

Thank you Brandi.

Jo S.5 months ago

Thanks Brandi.

Lea Silhol
Lea Silhol1 years ago

Congrats to Colorado's Girl Scouts! And thanks to alex l. for her comment. (green star on the way!)

ERIKA SOMLAI1 years ago

thank you for sharing

David Morgan Hardingham
David Hardingham2 years ago

I do not mind there cookies as long as sugar is the sweeter and no trans-fats or HFCS so there ok but again in moderation

Aileen P.
Aileen P.2 years ago

There are so many more serious thing to be upset about. Cookies are good.:)

Mary ann S.
mary ann s.2 years ago

Gooooooo girl scouts!!!! Way to go. I want to buy cookies even tough I don't need them. Now for the boy scouts????

joanne a.
Joanne A.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for sharing this article

Past Member 3 years ago

I hate to disagree Alex, (thanks for the green star and for backing me up!) but overeating is not at all the only culprit for the over-eating problem we're seeing now. Also to blame is a lack of physical activity, growth hormones in our food, and stress from lives that are more mentally taxing than they should be. Just saying. :)