Girl Scout makes headlines after opposing cookie ingredients: ‘I’m very determined’

A Girl Scout from New Hampshire broke her annual tradition of selling Girl Scout Cookies and instead started baking her own, all because of a key ingredient in Girl Scout Cookies — palm oil.

Sophia Hammond, 11, has been a Girl Scout since she was 5, according to a report by New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR). Along with camping trips and community service, selling cookies has been a crucial part of her identity. But when she learned those famous cookies contained controversial palm oil, she decided to boycott selling Girl Scout cookies.

Instead, she decided to bake and sell her own.

“I would say I’m very determined. Like, if I am doing something, I want to get it done,” Hammond told NHPR. “But cookies, in general, I’ve never really thought about it as a huge part of my life, but I have done a lot with them.”

Through her research, Hammond learned about the harmful impacts of palm oil — deforestation, ties to child labor, and the killing of wild orangutans. But she is far from the only one to openly criticize the Girl Scout Cookies for using palm oil.

In 2020, an Associated Press investigation detailed ties between palm oil harvesting and child labor in Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer and exporter. Since then, Girl Scout troops across the country have raised concerns about using palm oil in their cookies. The Girl Scouts organization now says that it seeks to use sustainable palm oil, though its cookies still include the ingredient, and NHPR reports that critics say some unsustainable oil may make it into the supply chain.

For Hammond, the solution to her problem was simple — bake her own cookies using her grandma’s recipes or ones she found online, all without a single drop of palm oil.

Embarking on a journey to make her own cookies was challenging. Hammond’s first batch of cookies was a mushy disappointment. She’s had to improvise as most brands use palm oil as a key ingredient. But with the help of her father, Hammond has now perfected her oatmeal and peanut cookie recipes, according to NHPR.

Chocolate chip, coconut macaroons, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter — she made them all. None of them use palm oil and Hammond ended up offering her homemade cookies as well as the usual Girl Scout Cookies. She sold 44 dozen of her homemade cookies and made $100 in profit, which she will donate back to her troop.

“So one of our main things in Girl Scouts is — it’s in our pledge — trying to make the world a better place. And I don’t think that the ingredient in Girl Scout cookies is doing that, so I don’t support it, and I wanted to try to do something else,” said Hammond.

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