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The fight to remove palm oil from Girl Scout Cookies

Posted By Nicole On May 24, 2011 @ 1:26 pm In Food News,Sweet Stuff | 9 Comments

Girl Scout Cookies!

If I were to meet them in person, I would give Girl Scouts Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva each a big batch of my homemade Girl Scout cookies because they are trying to change the way that the Girl Scout organization bakes their iconic Girl Scout cookies. These two girls set to work on a project to raise awareness of endangered orangutans and how their habitats are being destroyed. They discovered that much of that land was being cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is used in many different foods as a non-hydrogenated fat, but the one that stood out the most to these two girls is that palm oil was used to make Girl Scout cookies. It was a surprising realization and they decided to shift their campaign away from simply raising awareness and towards removing palm oil (or getting it from only sustainably grown sources) from Girl Scout cookies. Already, members of more than a few scout troops are saying that they no longer want to sell Girl Scout cookies.

Girl Scouts spokespeople say that there is no viable alternative to using palm oil in their cookies because they need them to be “sturdy” and have a long shelf life. Sustainably grown palm oil is simply too expensive and there isn’t enough of it to meet their demand. The bakeries began to make the switch to using palm oil from partially hydrogenated oils in 2006, after coming under fire for having trans fats in their baked goods.

In fairness to the Girl Scout cookie makers, making another change in the recipes of their cookies and switching to a different fat, such as butter or a fully hydrogenated, non-palm oil shortening blend, might be an expensive proposition. But at the end of the day this is an organization that is supposed to support girls and teach them “values such as honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, character, sisterhood, confidence, and citizenship.” It doesn’t mention saving money on cookie recipes. It seems like looking for ways to change the cookie recipes so that they can be something that Girl Scouts all across the country are proud to stand behind again seems like it would be right in line with the core values that the Girl Scouts organization says they stand for.

Another option for the girl scouts themselves is to try their hand at baking their own cookies and selling them to raise funds for their troops. It will be on a smaller scale, but there is a lot more to learn when you’re doing everything from scratch on your own. My homemade Girl Scout Cookie recipes are a great place to start (even if you’re not a Girl Scout yourself and just a fan of the cookies):

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