Thursday, February 28, 2013

Taking A Bite from the Girl Scouts' Cookie

We had some fun friends over for dinner last week and they brought Girl Scout Cookies. Some small part of me was terrified I'd go crazy and eat them all. Another part of me (well, maybe the same part) was telling me not to touch them with a ten foot pole.

But, really and truly, I didn't want to deprive myself and there was a big part of me that was jumping up and down to have them.

So I very consciously decided to have one of each of the flavors, which also happened to be my all-time favorites: Thin Mints and Samoas.

They tasted mostly like I remembered... but I really found I didn't like them much anymore. Curious, I took a look at the ingredients list on these boxes, and I was HORRIFIED... hydrogenated oils = trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, GMO ingredients.

I could have made myself a tastier, richer, healthier, more satisfying dessert if I gave myself 10 minutes

Oh yikes, to me, this isn't even real food. Our bodies do not know how to handle these highly processed, chemically-derived, and nutritionally depleted food-like substances (and so guess where your body looks for the nutrients it knows it needs to digest them - it pulls them from your bones and organs). Michael Pollan describes these as "edible food-like substances."

So, I was curious. I hopped online to see what the Girl Scouts website had to say about their cookies... and I got nothing but ANGRY.

Now, I don't get worked up very easily. I pride myself for having big-picture perspective and a whole lotta compassion and understanding. Those two things were being majorly insulted:

Their Cookie FAQ Page says a lot about "healthful ingredients" and the assurances they get from their "bakers" about the "highest quality" ingredients. (I'm thinking, gee, do you think they have any stock in giving those kinds of brown-nose answers to their buyers?) This is totally atrocious. And, yes, I understand they are "treats," but it is a literal shame that anything made with ingredients that are well-established by nutritional science to be literally disease-promoting could be talked about as made with "quality" and "healthfulness" in mind.

The worst travesty of the FAQ page, in my opinion, is the implied blaming of obesity, diabetes and being overweight on the individual. No blame for the industry crafting this misleading language and bogus health claims. No, YOU must take responsibility for eating your treats in moderation, says the webpage.

While, yes, I agree, personal discrimination is important, they're missing the point. The "failure" of individuals to have self-control is not the cause of this devastating diabesity* epidemic, no, not when these highly processed foodstuffs are marketed as "ok in moderation" and at the same time DESIGNED to make you overeat. What gives?

Point being, the normalization - and worse, the misleading labeling of "quality" and "healthful" - of these types of highly processed, known disease-promoting ingredients is what is causing obesity and diabetes. To say that personal consideration - about ingredients described with loaded, undefined, and unquestioned labels - is how one avoids becoming overweight or diseased, is to ignore and be an accomplice in the epidemic.

The Girl Scouts' stance on raising healthy girls and selling cookies made with those ingredients is completely contradictory. They are allowing themselves to be under the thumb of a profit-driven industrial food industry. I believe it is ignorant and irresponsible for the Girl Scouts Institution to allow the girls - and the people - of this country to believe that ANY consumption of cookies made with these ingredients can be deemed healthy in any way.

As for me, I was raised a proud Girl Scout. I was was indeed built as a girl of courage, confidence, and character, here to make the world a better place. I'm committed to just that, even if it means standing up against the establishment who helped me to get here.

Oh, and next time - just so I don't leave you hanging without a dessert - try making these Chocolate Coconut Truffles (mmm with walnuts is the best) next time! They'd crush any GS cookie in a taste competition.

For further reading, especially regarding how processed foodstuffs are designed to make you overeat:
*Dr. Mark Hyman: How Diet Soda Makes You Fat (& Other Food and Diet Industry Secrets)

1 comment:

  1. Incredibly enlightening article that a client passed along to me:

    "The Extraordinary Science of Junk Food" ... or, as it turns out, almost all processed food.

    Even as conscious and mindful as I like to think I am, this amazed me and made me think twice. If you buy and eat anything from a package or if you shop in a grocery store, this is worth the read.