Monday, April 28, 2008

Francis Farmers of the world: unite and take over.

Two girl scouts have raised a stink by refusing to sell the Thin Mint cookies because they are made with palm oil and the palm oil industry is endangering orangutans. Why is it that the smugness of morally superior PC pre-teens is even more annoying to me than the grown-up version?

Maybe they could do a union field trip to "help" intinerant farmers and earn their Che badges, hmm?

Or, do some crappy public wall art and earn their Diego Rivera badges?

Let's think of more forward thinking badges Girl Scouts might earn in the perfect world of their imagining...

Later added:

Sorry, I was tired and not feeling well when I posted this last night, and I maybe didn't fully flesh out my thoughts here. What I want to know is did palm oil production only begin AFTER deforestation of rain forests? Is Indonesia the only place in the world which produces palm oil, and if not, have they verified that the palm oil in those particular cookies came from orangutan habitat?

I have nothing against orangutans. If not for their magnificent hair color alone, I have high regard for any creature like myself which can chew its own toenails. I hope they're around for many moons to come.

24 comments:

Christina LMT said...

It sounds to me like they did their research, they don't seem shrill, do they? I LIKE orangutans, so what's wrong with trying to protect them?
Heck, at their age I was protesting US/USSR nuke placement in Germany AND collecting signatures for Greenpeace (to stop the clubbing of baby seals).
Dunno, I don't really see anything wrong in what they're doing, and at least it's something worthwhile.

g bro said...

What you got against orangutans? ;-)

g bro said...

"The Southeast Asian islands of Sumatra and Borneo are the only two places in the world where orangutans can presently be found in the wild." - Nature Conservancy

Sumatra is part of Indonesia. Borneo is split between Indonesia and Malaysia. 86% of the world's palm oil production is from Indonesia and Malaysia. So I'd say that clearing the rainforest in I & M to make way for palm oil plantations is in direct competition with the orangutans. Predicted extinction date for wild orangutans: 2020.

Hammer said...

I bet the orangutans would be placated with a lifetime supply of thin mints.

phlegmfatale said...

christina - I understand your points.

g bro - not a thing

g bro - thanks for the info. So, still, where does that other 14% come from, and is is the palm oil in these cookies confirmed to be coming from former orang- habitat?

phlegmfatale said...

If we are to insist that woefully poor populations are to kill what little industry to which they have access, then we need to provide them with alternatives. Moral people will support those choices. For example, I buy clothing from Flax, a company which features buttons made of the tagua nut which comes from trees in south american rain forests. IN fact, whenever I see these tagua beads or buttons, I buy them to incorporate into my jewelry designs. The production of products from tagua nut gives the indigenous peoples a reason to keep and profit from their local rain forests, a wonderful alternative to clear-cutting. THIS in my mind is the way to go about addressing the problem. FInd ways to support eco-friendly industry, rather than just saying - NO! you're killing hairy beasties - stop making money and supporting your families. Let's be honest - I'm sure the locals regret the loss of their local flora and fauna, but the bottom line is they babies' mouths got to be fed, and that trumps other concerns in survival-minded cultures.

I appreciate what you both have said here, and I can understand your opinions. No they didn't seem particularly shrill, per se, but to me, it seemed they were as good as saying Girl Scouts are immoral because of the recipe they use in a very popular product. I think a different approach would be more successful. Again, a suggestion of an alternative for those folks which would help them be part of the world economy would be welcome.

A great example of this is the silver work of Karen Hill Tribes. Nestled in the remotest reaches of the mountains of Thailand, Karen peoples have a long tradition of extraordinary silversmithing. However, they are so remote that their work has never really been in the jewelrymaking spotlight ever. I first started seeing occasional pieces of this marvelous silver at trade shows and in wholesale showrooms. I fell in love with the beautifully handhewn pieces which were so much more rich looking (to my eye) than the marvelous-yet-uniform work of the Balinese silversmiths. I quickly began incorporating this into the occasional piece. THEN I read that for the second half of the 20th century, the Karen peoples had survived by abandoning their silver traditions somewhat and growing opium poppies. After that, I began to incorporate Karen silver into every single piece of jewelry I make. I'm helping support a people who have found a way to market their extraordinary craftsmanship to a world that is hungry for uniqueness and fine crafstmanship. THAT, in my opinion, is how the best change comes about. No one else empowered these people - they found a way to make the most of what they already did so magnificently, and I tell that story to the people who buy my jewelry.

Yes, where things come from matters. How we use the resources of the world is of profound importance, but there are ways to go about it. It's subtle. Maybe raising awareness is enough. Maybe the campaign of these two girls will be enough to kill the popularity of Thin Mint cookies, but again, I still haven't heard that the pine oil in those cookies definitively came from Orangutan habitat, and THAT is the bone of contention for me.

phlegmfatale said...

hammer - have I told you lately that I love you?

B said...

Of all the impossible to pronounce, never-found-in-nature ingredients in those shitty, barely edible pieces of crap that people only eat b/c it's a guilt-free pass to be a glutton, PALM OIL is the one these chicklets take up an issue with?
As a former girl scout of America- silver badge in hand- I have to stress that I was always very uneasy pushing these iced turds every year when the time came.

Thud said...

It just seems like another case of much ado about nothing...the problem lies in Indonesia...figure out a way to hurt the govt...not the poor folks trying to make a living...we have way to much time on our hands in the west to think of stuff like this...hence the rest of the world passing us by.

Lin M. said...

I grew up in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. My whole little town made it's industry logging. I still have a "Out of toilet paper, try a spotted owl T-shirt"

But I'm not going to throw my cents in here as everyone else has so well articulated their view.

I did want to say. . is it just me or does your Pleghmy icon on the left there look like the Donnie Darko rabbit. ?? (I love that movie).

Faith said...

Phelgmfatale,
I appreciated your post and the post in the comment part. You had some valid points. Sometimes I feel there are so many "causes" we become closed to them as we feel we have heard too many already.

As you state, it is good to support the cultures ways of earning a living. I have never heard of the silver by the Karen Hill Tribes.

AS for the girl scouts....I want to be polite here...but...I AM SO TRIED OF BEING PUSHED TO BUY COOKIES AT EVERY STORE I GO INTO. Take the bleepen cookies and sell them to each other. And Let me not forget the popcorn by the boy scouts. UGH!! Should we check their label for palm oil? Maybe the girl scout and boy scouts can just sell their products to each other and leave the rest of us out of it.

OK. I'm of my soap box now.
Thanks

PS. Seriously, the boy and girl scouts do have good programs, which is great. They help many kids.

g bro said...

La P, you're right - we don't know if the oil came from those two countries (we have an 86% chance that it did). I can list the rest of the producers, but it seems unimportant to your main points.
The farms are huge - you can see them extend for miles from the air. I agree that poor people may be employed there, but they don't "own the means of production." This is not a cottage industry.
I find it odd that you condemn 2 girl scouts for doing research and acting on something they believe in. I didn't see anything smug, PC or morally superior in what they said. If the Girl Scouts were pro-gun control and the 2 girls' research indicated they should support the 2nd Amendment, how would you tag them then?

Anonymous said...

Orangutans taste just like chicken, baby seal, spotted owl.


Dick

J.R.Shirley said...

Orangutans rape. Other Orangs, definitely, and reportedly, women on their period in areas with wild Orangs are suggested to carry sticks with them for protection.

phlegmfatale said...

b - I like your point. I DO like girl scout cookies, but I agree on the unpronounceable, not-found-in-nature ingredients.

thud - I concur

lin - my stainless steel bunny icon is the 20-or-so-foot tall sculpture by freak-out artist Jeffrey Koons. LURVED me some Donnie Darko. Love the soundtrack. Excellent movie.

faith - indeed, it is so easy to get crisis fatigue in these drama-queen times

g bro - I don't have a problem with them doing research and making a statement. I DO, however, think the refusal to sell the cookies IS smug. I don't have a problem with them doing that. Why do you have a problem with me disagreeing with them?

dick - So I've heard!

jr shirley - Perhaps they Orangs should be given sensitivity training.

g bro said...

No problem with you disagreeing with them. I think your characterizations and references (Frances Farmer, Che, etc.) are, well, smug, superior and un-PC.
I am a bleeding heart for endangered furry animals and get all cringey-whingey when I think about their extinction. I get carried away, but it's no exaggeration that when Borneo is gone, we've lost one of the last wild places on earth. Thank God we haven't found oil in the interior, or my employer would be drilling holes in it right now.

phlegmfatale said...

g bro - I don't like the destruction of rare flora and fauna, but on fine points we disagree. I appreciate you taking time to share your views.

Anonymous said...

Thin mints are actually the evil, not the palm oil-killing- orangutans, or orangutan-killing palms, or whatever they are. Thin mints will never go away, they hang around my hips for MONTHS after the damn cookie sale is over!

g bro said...

La P,

Well, that was a sweet way of saying STFU! ;-) Will do.

B said...

Wow Phleghm!
Kudos to you for being provocative!
And I'm not being cheeky at all. Dead serious.
My donnie darkessssss.

phlegmfatale said...

kvegas - Evil, indeed!

b - aw, shucks.

Mechuahua said...

I loved this blog! There is nothing better than a frozen thin mint cookie. Sometimes an Orangutan has to die. Where are my beautiful mercenary Girl Scouts of yesteryear?

phlegmfatale said...

mehuahua - Glad you enjoyed it darling. At least one of the beautiful mercenary Girl Scouts of yesteryear is posing as an art model somewhere in your neck of the woods.
I have a friend who's a lab chemist who makes the most amazing thin mint martinis. HEAVEN.

Gregory Kong said...

Hmph. Well, I live in Malaysia, and I can tell you, you can clear all the forest you want, and plant all the oil palm you want.

Problem is, these idiots clear forest by the most stupid way possible - open burning, which them makes our air not worth breathing - except you have to stay alive, so what choice is there?

You have to realise that we have vast, VAST amounts of land. Borneo is the third largest island in the world, so even deforesting 20% of it is a ridiculous amount of land, and it's unlikely land usage will ever hit that much.