National Girl Scout Cookie Day: Money Counts

by Christina on February 8, 2013

I’m sure the Girl Scouts of the USA didn’t intend to be so, um, honest, when it chose this image to represent the first “National Girl Scout Cookie Day” (today). But check out the sash around that Thin Mint. See the “Money Counts” badge? Yeah. It sure does.

But it doesn’t count for the wee Daisy who earns that badge. While about 70% of cookie proceeds go to the local council, individual girls and troops keep only 10% to 20% of the price of each box. That’s a pretty lame profit for the foot soldiers of an organization that calls itself “the world’s largest girl-led business.” So yes, money counts, alright. But for whom?

And shouldn’t health count, too? And setting a good example? I’ll say again what I’ve now said countless times: I am not anti-Girl Scouts. I am not anti-cookie. I don’t want to deprive kids of their childhoods. But I am against inferior ingredients. And hypocritical organizations. And practices that force children to sell unhealthful products under the guise of “opportunity” and “tradition.” (Including the new healthwashed Mango Cremes — same-old ingredients dressed up with “NutriFusion” fruit powder.)

It doesn’t have to be this way. A growing number of parents, troop leaders and scouts are questioning the status quo, putting on their (critical) thinking caps and advocating for change. California troop leader Monica Serratos, for instance, whose troop opted out of cookie sales, dreamed up a great alternative service project for her girls: Because the troop can’t raise funds for itself unless it also sells cookies (a policy that varies across the country), they’ll be raising money for their school’s edible garden instead. Instead of buying Thin Mints, help the girls plant some actual mint. Instead of Lemonades, how about a lemon tree? Sheer brilliance.

Interestingly, only 65% of registered Girl Scouts participate in cookie sales each year (according to the GSUSA itself). I don’t know how that number has changed over the years (I’ll do some digging and let you know what I learn), but I find that encouraging. Maybe there is life after the cookies, after all.

Past cookie commentary from the Spoonfed archives:

Let’s talk Girl Scout cookies (January 7, 2011)
The first post, in which I ask people to look objectively at the cookies, their ingredients and the mixed messages surrounding the sales. (The comments on this post are illuminating: on Spoonfed and Fooducate, and on Fooducate’s Facebook page.) An excerpt from the post:

“Oh, there’s no way I’d let her sell them. Our food habits are far from perfect (whatever that means). But I’d feel like a hypocrite. Or a drug dealer. Go on, tell me I’m overreacting. But, seriously, I couldn’t in good conscience let my daughter sell something I believe to be patently unhealthy. (Just as I’m not a fan of donating Girl Scout cookies to food pantries.) And not that I’ve personally tasted one lately, but people tell me the cookies aren’t even that good. Maybe that’s because of ingredient changes. Or maybe because when you eat more real food, you lose your taste for crap. But, no matter. No selling.”

It’s not just a cookie (February 19, 2011)
The follow-up, in which I discuss reaction to the first post (for and against) and tackle the moderation myth. An excerpt:

“People too often confuse activism like this for an anti-treats or anti-fun or other extreme agenda. But this isn’t about never eating sweets or taking away people’s cookies or letting food control your life. And this isn’t just about Girl Scout cookies. This is about holding corporations accountable for ingredients that have no business in our food supply.”

No fooling: Girl Scouts are green and the FDA is making us blue (April 1, 2011)
A what-the-what? about the Scouts’ “Go Green” initiatives. Includes a link to a terrific letter by blogger and Girl Scout leader Jennifer McNichols. An excerpt from Jennifer’s letter:

“To me, Girl Scouts of the USA’s stance sends a frightening message to girls, and that message is the one they already receive on every corporate-sponsored kids’ cartoon and in free teaching materials provided by fast food chains: That ‘making a difference’ is all about thinking small, and keeping it that way, and making the easy choices while putting off the hard ones until it’s too late. Picking up litter and encouraging recycling but never asking where all this waste is coming from and what can be done about it. Getting fresh air and exercise but never examining the food we eat or where it comes from. Running ‘Save the Rainforests’ educational campaigns while selling cookies that contribute to their destruction. You — we — were supposed to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Girl Scout cookies and… a locavore badge? (November 11, 2011)
A round-up of previous posts and update on palm oil (as it were). Also mentions the Girl Scouts’ then-new locavore badge, along with a commenter’s suggestion that the badge requirements are missing a step: “Bake your own damn cookies.”

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Windy Daley of Texas April 11, 2013 at 7:42 pm

A great article! Your article hits on what is happening in America. Something wonderful has been awakened–and it’s growing slowly but surely–the health consciousness of America. Perhaps it’s just a snowball now, but will someday be a huge charging avalanche. Future generations will thank writers like you who are expressing their ideas on health questions.
Thank you!

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