Whether you remember selling them door to door as a Brownie or buying them from the office Girl Scout mother, most everyone can admit to sneaking a box of Thin Mints (preferably one chilled in the freezer).
But one Orange County Scout leader says that tradition is a bit too sweet.
Monica Serratos of Ladera Ranch and her Daisy Troop 2753 will display a Girl Scouts 100th anniversary “cake” made of fruit at the Orange County Fair on July 27 as part of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America centennial celebration.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the fruit “cake” would be sold at the fair.
Serratos wants to praise Scouting at the fair, but also call attention to the fact that cookies aren’t good for kids who already get too much sugar at school and at home.
Serratos, 31, asked parents in her troop a couple of months ago to discuss with their daughters whether to opt out of selling cookies.
While the majority of parents were supportive, one who wanted her daughter to experience the long-standing Girl Scout tradition of selling Trefoils and Do-Si-Dos splintered off, she said, forming another troop.
Serratos asked Girl Scout officials to sell fruit cakes to raise money in June but her request was denied.
“Girl Scout Daisy troops may not participate in fundraisers outside of our product sales programs (cookie sales and fall product sales), which have age-appropriate skill-building curriculum for Daisies,” Girl Scouts Communications Manager Emilie Perkins said in an email.
Serratos said she isn’t entirely opposed to sweets. She’s a baker who competed on “Cupcake Wars” and delivered her confections to the Academy Awards.
As a Viejo Elementary School volunteer in her daughter’s classroom, Serratos noticed children eating sweets on far too many occasions.
“They come to school with juice boxes, fruit snacks, chocolate granola bars,” she said, noting that kids are often rewarded with sugar. “That all adds up.”
Serratos said she also takes issue with the ingredients in Girl Scout cookies, specifically cotton seed oil and palm oil, the latter of which some environmental groups say lead to deforestation.
Perkins said the bakers that Orange County Scouts use, ABC Bakers in Virginia, use as little of the ingredient as possible and will use certifiably sustainable palm oil by 2015.
“In terms of the health technology, I think we work with two of the best bakers (the other is Little Brownie Bakers) in the world, and we trust them and their formulations,” said Amanda Hamaker, manager of product sales for Girl Scouts.
Diane Basurto, a dietitian and health educator at UC Irvine, said partially hydrogenated fats, such as cotton seed, palm or palm kernel oils, should be eaten at a minimum, but are hardly unique to Girl Scout cookies.
“These oils are found in so many commonly consumed foods found in our local markets,” she wrote in an email. “Foods like peanut butter, mayonnaise, salad dressings, margarines, and, of course many cookies and snacks, sold today.”
A couple of cookies a day are not going to lead to childhood obesity if the child has an otherwise balanced diet, said Basurto, who has a certificate in child weight management.
In regards to troops having a healthier choice, Hamaker noted that Girl Scouts can sell nuts and trail mix in the fall.
And, of course, there is much more to cookie drives than the ingredient lists.
“They develop five essential life skills — goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics,” Girl Scouts of Orange County spokeswoman Julie Weeks said.
Daisies learn to make change, prepare a booth and sales techniques, she said.
Serratos acknowledged the positive benefits but would rather kids sold healthier fare.
Jacky Getty, whose daughter Rylie is in Troop 2753, supports Serratos.
“Let’s show everyone else we can be healthy and have the same ideals and aspects that you receive being a Girl Scout,” Getty, 29. “I feel this way she will be a leader rather than a follower and leading people into making a better choice.”
And it doesn’t seem to bother her daughter.
“You can still eat cookies, just not all the time,” said Rylie, 6.