It’s Girl Guide cookie season. But before you get too excited, stop and ask yourself if you know what’s in those tasty biscuits? We look at the sustainability of everything else we eat, why not foods made/sold for charity?
It turns out that the cookies made for the Girl Scouts in the US are loaded with palm oil. In the news a great deal lately, palm oil has a scurrilous reputation. While it is the cheapest food oil on earth, it requires deforesting huge swaths of South Asian rain forest (and destroying the habitat of sensitive species like the Orangutan) to get the stuff.
Girl Guide cookies (the Canadian equivalent, with only the vanilla/chocolate combo in the spring and the chocolate mint cookies in the fall – not the plethora of flavours to be had down South) are just as bad. Made by Dare for Girls Guides Canada, they have made changes in recent years to decrease the transfats in the vanilla/chocolate cookies (there’s still some in the mint ones), but palm oil (because it is cheap and contains no trans fats) is still the main oil ingredient.
The saddest part is that members of Girl Scouts/Guides in both countries have tried to get their respective organizations to change the recipe and omit the palm oil.
Carolyn Thomas of the blog The Ethical Nag suggests not purchasing the cookies. Instead, she tells her readers to give the girls the money, but refuse to take the cookies, making it clear why. And if you’ve got time, an email to Girl Guides of Canada wouldn’t hurt either. As an organization that promotes learning about, respecting and being part of nature (specifically to “protect our common environment”), it seems a bit shameful that they’re not more concerned about this issue. And as an organization that depends on donations (and cookie sales), letting them know that consumers expect them to source their product ethically is a lesson that would seem to be at the heart of the organization’s mission to teach girls to contribute responsibly to their communities.