This may seem a wee bit like trashing the work of Santa Claus or Mother Teresa. But what I’m suggesting today was inspired by American dentist-turned-nutritionist Dr. Susan Rubin and her essay on why she has decided to no longer purchase U.S. Girl Scout cookies. In fact, she claims that not only will she not buy these cookies, but she actually wants their entire cookie fundraising program to “go extinct”.
And this isn’t just because those American Girl Scouts sell Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Samoas and DoSiDo cookies that are not healthy. They are cookies, for Pete’s sake, and as an occasional treat, Dr. Rubin has little quarrel with treats. But there is one ingredient in these cookies that endangers planetary health as well as personal health. Dr. Rubin explains:
“The more I’ve learned about food and food systems, the more I’ve learned about our fragile environment. Every single flavor of Girl Scout cookies this year contains palm oil. While it is a saturated fat, that’s not why I don’t want my kids eating it. The issue is environmental.”
Dr. Rubin goes on to say that to grow palm oil, we destroy rainforests. And that means destroying the planet’s most biodiverse ecosystems, home to millions of indigenous people, rare plants and endangered animal species like orangutans, and creating runaway climate change that may impact our very future on this planet.
I wondered about our own Canadian Girl Guides, who also sell cookies to raise much-needed funds to support valuable Guiding programs. So I contacted Lucie Page, who works in Cookie Customer Service at Girl Guides of Canada. I asked her: “Lucie, do our Girl Guide cookies contain palm oil like those American Girl Scout cookies do?” She replied:
“Yes, they do. Palm oil is being used in both Girl Guides’ Classic and Mint cookies.”
Oh, no, Lucie! Not the Girl Guide Mint ones! I love those cookies. The only good news about Girl Guide cookies is that they no longer contain artery-clogging transfats, following growing worldwide pressure to reduce or eliminate this deadly fat in all processed foods. Maybe it’s about time we now asked the same hard questions about this palm oil. Continue reading