Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Michigan Teens Meet With Girl Scout Leadership About Cookie Ingredients

The Wall Street Journal reports that the two Michigan teens campaigning to replace palm oil in Girl Scout cookies met for two hours yesterday with Girl Scout officials. During the meeting Tuesday morning at Girl Scouts of the USA headquarters in New York City, scout officials agreed to research palm oil to determine if they can get more of the ingredient from rain forests that haven't been cleared for palm oil plantations, or if they can replace it with something else.

Amanda Hamaker, product sales manager for Girl Scouts of the USA, said the organization plans to reach out to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental groups about palm oil production.

Girl Scouts Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva became concerned about the presence of palm oil in the cookies after they studied orangutans as part of a project to earn their Girl Scout Bronze Award four years ago. They learned that palm oil plantations are sometimes built on orangutan habitat.

Last year, Girl Scout troops sold $714 million of cookies, most of which goes to the nonprofit councils under which troops are organized.

Before their Tuesday meeting with Ms. Hamaker, Girl Scouts spokeswoman Michelle Tompkins and two other officials, the girls met Girl Scouts of the USA Chief Executive Officer Kathy Cloninger for about 15 minutes, after which they received a "meet the CEO" patch for their Girl Scout uniforms.

Palm oil preserves the cookies and gives them the taste and texture that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil once did. The vegetable oil was removed five years ago so the cookies would be free of trans fat.