Now that the Girl Scout Cookie sales have started, I can’t sit by and stay silent about the atrocities that these well meaning scouts are innocently perpetrating on their families, their friends and even the planet. I’m well aware that these cookies have a place in the hearts and minds of so many people. My mom was a troop leader and the cookie chair when I was a kid. When I was a much younger, more naive mom, I was part of the cookie craze. My daughter got a big fancy badge one year because we staked out her sister’s child care center and sold them out of the back of my van! I’m no longer that young and innocent. Now that I know what I know about the ingredients of Girl Scout cookies, I can’t eat them, I don’t let my kids eat them and I really want to encourage you not to buy or eat them either.
This is not about childhood obesity or that word, “moderation”. I’m fine with a few cookies every now and then. I’ll buy Tate’s cookies or whip up a batch of my own. It’s not about the calories or even the fat grams in Girl Scout cookies.
Here’s a link to the Nutrition information for this years Girl Scout cookies. It’s not the nutrition information, the calories or grams of trans fats that I’m concerned about. Its the INGREDIENTS. You’ll need to magnify the page to be able to read them. For the most part, they got rid of any High Fructose Corn Syrup. Little Brownie Bakers knows that moms no longer tolerate HFCS as an ingredient. They’ve replaced it with sugar. It’s not the corn syrup or the sugar that is keeping me and my kids away from these cookies.
It’s the poor quality oils that will keep me from buying Girl Scout cookies.
The Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Samoas and DoSiDos contain cottonseed oil. Let’s start with the fact that cotton is not a food. My pal, Dr. Andrew Weil says no way is cottonseed oil okay. It is loaded with pesticide residue, cotton is one of the most highly sprayed crops. Since cotton crops are under far less chemical regulation that other other crops used specifically for food, many pesticides or chemicals can be used on cotton crops that are illegal for use on food crops, how creepy is that? This oil is super cheap, so a cookie company looking to make a super cheap product will use this ingredient. In addition to the pesticide residue, cottonseed oil is extremely high in inflammatory Omega 6 oil. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in cottonseed oil is 259:1. For optimal health, we want a ratio of 2 parts Omega 6 to 1 part Omega 3. If you’re trying to increase your Omega 3 for health reasons, and you eat an edible foodlike substance like a Girl Scout Cookie made with cottonseed oil, you’ll have to guzzle a gallon of fish oil or flaxseed oil to balance out our omega 6:3 ratio! Plain and simple: cottonseed oil is a hazardous ingredient that you don’t want your family ingesting.
Besides personal health, Girl Scout cookies endanger planetary health as well. That’s a bold statement, huh? The more I’ve learned about food and food systems, the more I’ve learned about our fragile environment. Here’s why I make that statement. Every single flavor of Girl Scout Cookies this year contains Palm Oil. What’s so bad about palm oil? While it is a saturated fat, that’s not why I don’t want my kids to be eating it. I use lots of saturated fats in my cooking: butter, coconut oil even some duck fat and occasional bacon grease! Saturated fat is not the issue.
The issue is environmental. To grow palm oil, we destroy rain forests. Its not just about destroying the planet’s most biodiverse ecosystems which are home to millions of plant and animal species, including highly endangered orangutans, clouded leopards, and sun bears. Its about creating runaway climate change that will impact our future on this planet. I’m not making this up- read more about it here from the Rainforest Action Network.
Now that my girls are older, I can look forward to the future when I will be a grandma. I hope to take the time to bake cookies with my grandkids, just like my grandma did with me. If we keep plowing down rainforests in the name of cheap oil to put in cheap cookies, I might never get a chance to see grandkids.
Parents of scouts: please don’t have your kids sell these cookies. Take some time, make some real cookies, make a donation to the Girl Scouts, it’s a great organization. I’d like to see their cookies go extinct. There are so many other worthwhile fundraisers that are good for people and for the planet. Please pass this on to anyone you know who cares about the fate of the earth and hopes to have grandkids one day.