Tag Archives: school fundraisers

The (Girl Scout) Cookie Dilemma


It’s almost that time of year again, Girl Scout cookie time! I had nearly forgotten about my little rant in Garden Rant on this very subject until I saw a post on Moms Across America’s Facebook Page this week. The post was a call to action—urging us to petition the Girl Scouts to make non-GMO ookies.

I have to say, I’m down with that.

(The link for the petition, started by a Girl Scout, is at the end of the post.)

I thought I’d share my story.

* * *

To Hell with Cookies

I was a real jerk last February 13th. Maybe it was inevitable—after weeks doing financial aid paperwork for our daughter’s college applications and our taxes, I’d had no time to even think about doing anything fun, like gardening. But I was not planning to be mean when I saw the Girl Scouts on the steps of our neighborhood library. In fact, I was cheery as I
chirped to my teen daughters Zora and Lily, “We should buy your dad a box of Mint Thin Girl Scout cookies for Valentine’s Day!”

Once I got to the table, though, suddenly the desire to support this American ritual was colored by something else. These cookies were bad for you, and the temptation, the pressure, to buy them was everywhere. A friend had just said something the week before—how families who sell these cookies almost always over-indulge, both parents and children gaining empty calories and reinforcing the sugar habit. These damn cookies, I thought, out there for weeks, tempting all to buy, buy, BUY!

That’s when I made the first snarky remark. “Same price as last year, but smaller boxes.”  Everyone politely ignored that rudeness, but then, looking at the back of the box, I added, “Artificial ingredients, hydrogenated oil. Yuk.”

Truly, I do not usually behave like this. I think there was a full moon too. My daughters  cringed, the father of the girls glared at me. I ignored them. And then I bought a box!

As we walked away, Lily said, “Mom, you were such an asshole.” The evil spell lifted. Oh my God. I was! A huge one!  We got in the car. I was suddenly full of remorse. “Maybe I should go apologize.” I hesitated, started to turn around. “Don’t you dare go back!” both daughters cried, fearing more embarrassment.

Although Lily pointed out the cookies also used palm oil (palm oil!), my conscience ached for days. How could I diss the Girl Scouts? They do good work! They set good examples! The amazing women who have been in Girl Scouts include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gloria Steinem, and Martha Stewart. Girls are taught useful skills; self-esteem is bolstered. This group is respectful of different religions and beliefs. They fully accept people with different sexual orientations . . . what was wrong with me?!?

After thinking it over, I realized the roots of my ill will ran deep. Subconsciously I’d been thinking of all those kids—mine included—coming to our doors over the years, selling things we didn’t need or want. Paraffin candles, candy, cookies, stuffed animals made in China, discount cards for buying junk food at fast food franchises. This is what we, in America, make our kids peddle. This is what they sell for their schools, for their clubs.

As I mulled it over I remembered a school fundraiser from my elementary school days.  It was small town Missouri in the mid 1970s and I was going door to door, at exactly this time of year selling . . .  seeds! I remembered it clearly, the long list of seeds to choose from: vegetables, flowers, and herbs in beautiful packages with colorful art.

And you know what? When I came to the door many were even damn glad to see me!

I remember little old ladies (who probably weren’t much older than I am now) saying, “I’ve been wondering when you’d be by! I want to get the garden going.”

Imagine—trading four dollar boxes of cookies made with palm oil, hydrogenated oil, and artificial flavorings, for something that we can actually USE. Imagine a product that’s healthy in every way. Imagine Girl Scouts selling organic non-GMO seeds, unusual seeds, maybe seeds in partnerships with other Girl Scouts around the world, seeds that can grow beautiful bouquets of flowers, vegetables to eat. Seeds that can urge people to get off their couches, drop those cookies, grab a shovel and create something fabulous! Fundraising that can be positive for everyone and every living thing.

I can see it now, and it can happen! After all, these girls can do anything—they’re Girl Scouts.

—Sandra Knauf

(First posted on September 13, 2010 in Garden Rant.)

* * *

As I mentioned before, there’s a petition. I didn’t mind signing, joining in the effort to try to convince them to switch to a healthier fundraising product. (I’m still voting for seeds—non GMO goes without saying.) When I signed on January 14 they had well over 16,000 supporters and needed over 8,000 more.


Filed under Power to the People