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February 11, 2013 | 3 minute read

“Healthy” Girl Scout Cookies?

Did you know it was National Girl Scout Cookie Day last Friday? There are many months and days dedicated to specific issues, but this one caught my attention – and not for the right reasons.canstockphoto5469124(1)

Full disclosure – I am a mother of a girl scout and, as such, a co-peddler of cookies. I have served my time knocking on doors in January, encouraging weary little feet to try just one more street and teaching an elementary age scout to accept “no-thank you” with grace and a smile.

We know Girl Scout Cookies are a treat; they are not low in fat, sugar or calories. I have struggled with the fact that selling lots of boxes provides the funds for the programs that benefit my daughter. We are respectful of people when they say – I’m watching my weight or need to cut down – and our own family order is modest. (Working here at AICR, I know that being overweight increases the risk of seven cancers and so it’s important for adults – and kids – to have healthy eating habits for cancer prevention and just overall good health.)

Our region had the standard menu of cookies this year, so I only learned on Friday that another cookie – with “health benefits” – was being offered in some parts of the country. The Mango Creme Cookie comes with a creme filling apparently enhanced with nutrients, which, according to the promotional blurb “offer the benefits of eating cranberries, pomegranates, oranges, grapes and strawberries.”

How sad that Girl Scouts are getting into the same misleading practices of the food industry. Fortifying cookies with vitamins does not make them healthier – just like fortifying a sugar based chocolate cereal with vitamins does not make it a healthy breakfast choice.

The food industry is a multi-million dollar venture with immense power and professional expertise. Girl Scouts are a powerful force for good with considerable influence, fuelled by a huge force of volunteers – just like me. They risk losing that good will and free workforce. I have come to terms with selling cookies for what they are – a sweet, sugary treat – but promoting a cookie as a healthy choice is a step too far and takes Girl Scouts into an arena they are ill equipped to deal with.

Raising money to support programs without compromising core beliefs is territory all non-profits are familiar with. Unless the Girl Scout organization wishes to make a serious attempt at reformulating the cookies, which will be an expensive proposition and a public relations challenge – I suggest they stick to what they know, are known for and good at – inspiring millions of girls to try something different, serve others and live a full life.

I love Girl Scouts and all that it offers and stands for. Do I agree with everything they do? No – there’s the issue of each troop only receiving a small fraction from each box of cookies sold for starters – but this misfit cookie is an easy fix. I hope Mango Crème disappears from the range sooner rather than later.

5 comments on ““Healthy” Girl Scout Cookies?

  1. Minsook Kim on

    Thank you for standing up & writing this blog. I am a mother of 2 girl scouts girls & in an ethics dilemma every time cookie time rolls around because of the unhealthiness & environmental concerns of palm oil use, etc from the cookies. I know other moms who have similar conflicting thoughts. I have written to girl scouts about these issues, but no avail so far. It doesn’t hurt to keep writing & trying to make change for the better. Thx!

  2. FitClaire on

    The obvious solution is to make a 100% donation to the girl scouts and forego the cookies. The manufacturer is the true beneficiary of the sales and the girl scouts are just being used. I know this from experience working for a different supplier for a different group.

  3. Jane L. on

    With childhood obesity such a national health problem, it is time for teh Girl Scouts to pay attention and promote a healthier lifestyle. Cookies may be a tradition, but there are other ways to fundraise. What about selling hoola hoops, bands, and jumpropes? They couldn’t be any more expensive and could be a good source of advertisement for the scouts. Second to that, I would rather make a cash donation.
    Thank you for the tip on teh “healthy cookie”, a friend has tried to use that sales pitch on me.

  4. theresa on

    It has always bugged me when Girl Scouts (or anyone else) markets something as “healthy,” when it’s not. This is not the first year, cookie pushers (said with a smile) tout something as healthy. I buy a box every year (sorry, who is gonna buy hoola hoops?) to be supportive, and I am just as likely to donate cash and forgo whatever is being sold. I wish more people would do that instead of just saying no outright (“watching my weight”)

  5. Deirdre on

    Thank you for your comments and good suggestions. Some people do simply give us a donation to support Girl Scouts without ordering cookies. And we are grateful for those.


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