The Big Problem with Girl Scout Cookies
Girl Scouts — if you want to make the world a better place, start with your cookies.
I understand why the Girl Scouts sell cookies. Everyone loves cookies. The Girl Scout cookie fundraiser is a special treat that comes but once a year — during which the girls learn valuable business skills while the cookies practically sell themselves. It’s a win-win for all parties involved. It just wouldn’t be the same if they were selling fruit baskets or holiday wreaths — and their profits would likely suffer. Let’s face it: sugar is a very persuasive and lucrative business partner.
The real question is: why do the cookies they sell have to be so darn toxic?
The GS cookie has evolved throughout the years — from delicately homemade batches to the mass-produced artificiality that they are today. For instance, the original GS sugar cookie ingredients of 1922 were as follows: flour, butter, sugar, eggs, milk, baking powder, vanilla, salt. Now that sounds like a cookie.
Now, the ingredients list for their modern thin mints reads: enriched flour, sugar, vegetable shortening (palm &/or partially hydrogenated palm kernel oils), cocoa, caramel color, high fructose corn syrup, salt, baking soda, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavors, peppermint oil. Oh, and there are GMOs in there.
How did we get from A to B? Where do the extraneous, unnatural ingredients come in — heinous trans-fats in the form of partially hydrogenated oils, harmful sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, GMOs, and artificial flavors/colorings? They just aren’t necessary.
Just how harmful could these tantalizing cookies be? Artificial flavors and colors have been linked to increased hyperactivity in young children. Ingredients like hyrdogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup have been directly linked to disease as well as the US’s current obesity epidemic. GMOs are under-researched, and can severely increase your toxic load. They have been banned or severely limited throughout Europe, along with Japan, China, and Brazil.
Who wants a bite now?
Before you claim that it’s impossible to make a natural, mass produced cookie, let me assure you; it is. Take Newman’s O’s mint creme cookies: Organic unbleached wheat flour, organic powdered sugar (organic sugar, organic corn starch), organic sugar, organic palm fruit oil, canola oil (expeller pressed), cocoa, unsweetened chocolate, salt, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). It may not be perfect, but it sounds a bit more like a packaged mint cookie you’d want to indulge in, doesn’t it? Recognizable sugars, non-hydrogenated oils, no GMOs, and many organic and sustainably harvested ingredients. It’s not fancy or gourmet — it’s just responsible.
I’m not suggesting anything truly radical. Yes, sugar is really bad for you, but cookies are meant to be enjoyed in moderation. Just a delicious, sweet cookie that doesn’t read like a chemistry lab inventory would do. There are many bright young Girl Scouts out there working to become leaders and shakers in the world. They should be educated about the cookies they are selling; perhaps even challenged to take a hand in reformulating the cookies so that they are less toxic and more enjoyable for kids and adults alike. Wouldn’t that be the Girl Scouts way?
Consider the Girl Scouts mission statement… “to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who will make the world a better place.” The Girl Scouts have the right idea, utilizing sustainably harvested palm oil and offering a locavore badge. But, wouldn’t showing the country that this small facet of our broken food system — the quality of their famous cookies — could be changed fall in line with those philosophies? I know it may seem economically less viable for them, but if anyone can figure it out and set an example, it should be the Girl Scouts of America.
Do you think the Girl Scout cookie needs an overhaul?