“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.