As the awesomely-named Julie Jargon reports in The Wall Street Journal, a couple of Michigan Girl Scouts are making their cookie-slinging organization a bit queasy. With the sort of earnest, honest, single-minded conviction only young people can muster, high school sophomores Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, once stellar vendors of the sweet treats, have, for the past four years, led a grass roots crusade against a primary ingredient: palm oil.
In pursuit of coveted Girl Scouts Bronze Awards, Tomtishen and Madison Vorva first headed to Southeast Asia to study endangered orangutans. There they found that orangutans' rain forest stomping grounds have been evaporating faster than a box of Thin Mints at our house. Why? Because, in an ironic twist, palm oil plantations are expanding to meet demand.
The girls have partnered with environmental groups, harnessed the power of social networking, and attempted to engage their organization in a dialogue about the issue, but judging by the quotes, the response has been limp:
The Girl Scouts organization says its bakers have told them there isn't a good alternative to palm oil that would ensure the same taste, texture and shelf life. "Girls sell cookies from Texas to Hawaii and those cookies have to be sturdy," says Amanda Hamaker, product sales manager for Girl Scouts of the USA.