Organic Coffee

Starbucks is the *world's largest* consumer of rBGH milk--milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (the drug designed to force cows' bodies to produce more milk than nature intended, which in turn creates many of the health problems that require the dairy cows to be dosed liberally with antibiotics during their short and brutally miserable lives). In addition to the intense suffering caused to the cows, the drugs have been linked to myriad human illnesses. Starbucks is also generally among the top 15 users of genetically modified foods and ingredients in the U.S--right up there with Coca Cola, Kellogg's, and Procter & Gamble! Organic Consumers Association and volunteers around the world have been participating in a "Frankenbucks" Campaign. You can be equally effective by simply choosing OTHER establishments from which to get your beans and brewed java.

(In the Seattle area especially, there are now actually DOZENS of available brands, even in supermarkets; a number of downtown cafes serve organic coffee and many organically produced baked goods. [On Vashon, that's Cafe Luna!] Seattle is a leader in this area. Seattle is one of a couple cities in which SBC locations serve only rBGH-free milk.) Also, Starbucks refuses to brew organic coffee in its retail locations. Consider these undeniable facts and ask whether you want this:

1. CHEMICALS: Regular, pesticide-grown, sun-grown coffee is poison for all concerned. Worldwide, coffee is the most pesticide-doused crop of any that we eat or drink (only cotton is a close second--but that's another story.) . Many of the pesticides used for coffee sold to the U.S. are actually outlawed for use in the U.S. The conversion of coffee production to more "modern" sun growing destroys the balanced ecosystem that once controlled pests and weeds naturally, now requiring constant and massive chemical blitzing.

2. BIRDS AND FORESTS: In addition, sun-grown coffee is responsible for the vast destruction of tropical forests which provided habitat for songbirds (many of which are becoming extinct as the shade-growing tradition has given way to full-sun farming systems). The trading of shade canopy coffee trees for new high-yielding, sun-tolerant varieties in the last few decades has also increased soil erosion/depletion.

3. FAIR TRADE: Finally, organic and shade-grown coffee tends to also be a fairly-traded product that provides fair wages and conditions for coffee growers. For the most part, "modern" coffee production simply has not compensated farmers for all their costs. Full-sun coffee plantations are more expensive to maintain--in addition to their greater environmental costs. Sun-grown coffee is no boon for farmers--only for agribusiness and chemical companies! As always, I ask why NOT choose differently, when there are plenty of other easy options? It's so easy to do the right thing. When buying beans, simply choose:

Now see the letter to the Starbucks CEO

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