Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Going after the Girl Scouts
It's Girl Scout cookie season again, but this year I'm probably not going to buy any. I still have a solid stash of Thin Mints in our freezer at home, right next to the Cherry Garcia, in the "I.C.E. box" ("in case of emergency" - it's just comforting to know they are there waiting for me). I've been buying the crispy, cool confections since college, when we'd descend upon the Brownie troop with its little stand at the video store parking lot.
That's why I initially laughed when I heard that the advocacy group National Action Against Obesity is calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies.
When I talked to the group's mother-turned-activist founder, MeMe Roth, this is the point she made: They do amazing work, but "is it OK to raise $700 million a year off cookies if you're a civic-minded organization like the Girl Scouts, in the midst of an obesity epidemic?"
After all, more than 18 percent of kids in the United States between ages 6 and 11 are overweight, according to the CDC. That's a lot of chubby little cookie-munchers. MeMe's solution is to gradually wean Girl Scouts off cookies as the group's main fund-raising tool, sometime over the next five, 10, even 20 years. Yipes! No more Samoas?
The Center for Science in the Public Interest seems to be of the same mind. The non-profit organization recently released a report about junk food fund raisers. Did you know that 67 percent of them use baked goods to help raise money for athletic equipment, field trips, and the likes? Instead, the CSPI suggests book fairs, walk-a-thons and other physical activity fund raisers, recycling events (cell phones and printer cartridges for money), and healthy food sales (granola bars anyone?).
Honestly, I'd be willing to consider replacing the school bake sales with some of those healthier activities, sure. But even Cookie Monster knows "a cookie is a sometimes food," so can't we just leave the Girl Scouts alone? I mean, they even cut out most trans fats from their cookies recently. Should we go after these girls as money-raising cookie-pushers? Or is that just downright un-American?
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