Unenthusiastic Reviews of Girl Scouts’ New Cookie May Be Karma

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January 10, 2012; Source: Diets in Review | In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the Girl Scouts premiered a new lemony-shortbready cookie this year called “Savannah Smiles.” Unfortunately, it has received less than rave reviews from those who say that it is “not a game changer,” “less than unique,” and “underwhelming”— even “lame.” But perhaps more to the point, it contains palm oil, the ingredient that caused a small rebellion among the troops when two young scouts, Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, discovered that the rainforest was being cleared to make way for palm oil plantations, thus destroying the natural habitat of the orangutan. They discovered this, by the way, in the process of doing a project to earn an environmental badge from the Girl Scouts. The two girls organized a very effective social media campaign to have the palm oil eliminated from Girl Scout Cookies when they were not heard by GS leadership, and the organization finally made some concessions to the scouts’ demands, vowing to switch to sustainable palm oil by 2015. But Tomtishen said in a statement, “Purchasing GreenPalm certificates and working towards segregated, certified sustainable palm oil by 2015 are steps in the right direction. However, the most important part of their policy is the commitment to use palm oil only if there is no alternative. . . . We hope to work closely with the Girl Scouts and experts to find such an alternative.”You can see more about what people thought of the adequacy—or not—of the organization’s response here.

This year, the Girl Scouts clearly missed a chance to make a larger and more definitive statement about the value of their own organization in building the leadership of girls. Maybe the fact that the new cookie is not receiving rave reviews is a bit of karma for not having introduced a cookie devoid of palm oil while making a proud statement in celebration of the achievement of two brave young leaders. I would have bought a ton of Savannah Smiles if they had (and very likely ended up weighing a ton!).—Ruth McCambridge

  • GreenPalm

    The girl scouts should be commended in both their action in raising awareness on the issues facing the palm oil industry and the scouts strong commitment to switch to segregated sustainable palm oil by 2015. The first stage along that road is through GreenPalm, allowing the Girl Scout cookies to directly support RSPO certified growers.

    Why should cookies not contain palm oil? After all biodiversity gave us the palm oil fruit we just need to change the way we cultivate this crop. With a global population of 7 billion, a switch in how and where we source our energy demands and emerging global markets such as China/Brazil and India, all major edible oils/fats face sustainability issues for these three reasons.

  • PalmOilFreeSoap.com

    Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva are brave girls. The issues that they have identified are big. It’s not just animals that are being pushed from pillar to post.

    These girls are questioning a fundamental ingredient in the cheap food chain for baking.

    Palm oil is a key export for many countries. Unfortunately some of the corporates that are involved in this process do not care about local laws, local indigenous peoples, or local animal life. They care about profits.

    If local bans on stripping forest or wiping animal life habitat get in the way of profits, some foreign owned, and even locally owned corporates don’t care.

  • hannah plumb

    glad someone is finally raising the red flag on the ingredients in girl scout cookies. a few years ago when i started to be proactive about the ingredients in the food i was eating [particularly high fructose corn syrup, msg, and partially-hydrogenated oil] i noticed all the cookies i annually orderd from g.s. had one or more of those ingredients. i spoke with our local gs troop and then wrote letters to the oorporate office. never heard a word back. i hadn’t known about the palm oil issue to the environment. if an organization is supposed to be working toward being good members of our community and caring for the world we live BUT refusing to set the example, i for one won’t be supporting them in the future.

  • KathyO

    🙁 Yes, Girl Scouting has become ambilalent in many areas of what used to be important issues to the organization. Taking care of one’s self,nutrition. I am a Girl Scout, and was one through high school. It seems a place for people to have a job, but in the end NOT truly care about what they stand for. The volunteers(leaders) are the true Girl Scouts.
    The only emails I recieve from them now, as a parent, are to buy product(not just cookies)-VERY SAD!