It’s that time of year again where your colleagues’ daughters, relatives, and girl scout troops at the grocery store start offering you those cookies you can’t resist. From Thin Mints to Samoas and Tagalongs, it’s hard to say no to these classic mouthwatering cookies. However, some girl scout troops are furious at a controversial ingredient being in the cookie recipes. Girl Scout troops countrywide are starting a movement that says no to the Girl Scout cookie and yes to a boycott of the popular treats, which is also the organization’s biggest fundraiser. When she was just ten years old, a girl named Olivia Chaffin learned about the controversial ingredient and decided the best thing to do was boycott the cookies she once loved selling as a troop member. That year, she wrote a letter to the President of the Girl Scouts about palm oil in the girl scout fundraiser program’s signature treats. So what is palm oil, and what’s so bad about it?
Palm oil production is a contentious subject because its sourcing directly contributes to the deforestation in rainforest regions. Deforestation is devastating to the Earth, with many once lush rainforests tore down by contractors and businesses to make money. Deforestation is devastating to the indigenous people and animals that live in the rainforest. The exploitation of the rainforest’s wealth of biodiversity is devastating. Animals forced to flee the destruction of their home must find a new home or die off. Shortly after sending her letter to the President of the Girl Scouts, she replied that the cookies contain sustainable palm oil, which does not contribute to reforestation. Still, the box says “mixed, sustainable palm oil,” meaning that only some of the cookies’ oil is sustainable. Olivia says that “it is unknown how much sustainable palm oil is in the cookies. It could be a large amount.”
Palm oil has many uses, including food, cosmetics, and biofuel, according to a Rainforest Rescue. This nonprofit organization fights the harvesting and use of palm oil, 66 million tons each year. The organization notes that palm oil has a low market price, which leads it to be the most commonly produced and used vegetable oil in processed foods and is in half of all supermarket products. Rainforest Rescue says that palm oil is in everyday foods like “frozen pizza, biscuits, and margarine,” and other items that use an oil like candles, detergents, body creams, soaps, and makeup. This inexpensive oil may be in many of your pantry products right now, including Girl Scout cookies. The boycott of girl scout cookies is a good reminder always to know what goes into your food. You never know who or what is being affected by our food choices.