Neil Young, The Starbucks Problem and Local Solutions

Neil-Young.jpgIn the Lehigh Valley, there are plenty of ways you can avoid GMO-laden coffees and also support coffee farmers around the world. In Bethlehem, there are no less than five sources of quality coffee, including The Joint, The Wise Bean, Back Door Bakeshop, Full of Crepe and Deja Brew. Whether you demand organic or would just prefer your coffee come from a friendly business, many local shops have smart options for latte lovers and black coffee drinkers alike. 

Neil Young, famed folk singer/rock artist, made headlines about a month ago when he announced on his blog that he’s having a hard time finding a coffee supplier with a "Heart of Gold" saying ”GOODBYE STARBUCKS!”

"I used to line up and get my latte everyday, but yesterday was my last one. Starbucks has teamed up with Monsanto to sue Vermont, and stop accurate food labeling. Tell Starbucks to withdraw support for the lawsuit -- we have a right to know what we put in our mouths. Starbucks doesn't think you have the right to know what's in your coffee. So it's teamed up with Monsanto to sue the small U.S. state of Vermont to stop you from finding out."

Noting that Starbucks has teamed up with Monsanto behind the veil of “the Grocery Manufacturers Association” to cripple efforts to ensure the proper labelling of all GMO-containing foods, Young urges customers to discontinue purchasing from the chain until they pull their support of the lawsuit. This isn’t the first time Starbucks has used these tactics in an attempt to get their way.

According to Bryant Simon’s Everything but the Coffee: Learning About America from Starbucks, the Ethiopian government attempted to trademark coffees made within the three most prolific growing regions within its borders: Yirgacheffe, Harrar and Sidamo. Akin to the way French wines from the Champagne region are trademarked, so would the unique coffees to be exported from these regions. Ethiopia is the “birthplace” of coffee and home to innumerable unique varieties of Arabica bean. Despite the exceptional quality of coffees produced here, hunger and poverty are rampant. Most farmers struggle to afford to send their children to school.

Starbucks, guising themselves as the National Coffee Association of the USA, blocked Ethiopia’s move to trademark the Harrar and Sidamo names. When asked about why they fought to stop Ethiopia’s measures, the Association responded that coffee’s would become “too expensive.” Ethiopia remains one of the most impoverished regions in the world, partially due to Starbucks’ role in thwarting trademarking attempts by the country.

Over the years, Starbucks has obsessively pampered its public image. Grooming themselves to be featured on Oprah’s yearly “favorite things” lists and making exclusive deals with record labels to feature hip and youthful music in their storefronts are just a few examples. However Starbucks’ pleasant aesthete is merely skin-deep. Under the hood, Starbucks is truly a huge corporation that uses tactics not dissimilar to those of other beguiled entities, such as McDonalds and KFC. For example, the Food Babe blog recently dissected the contents of a Starbucks latte, and exposed Starbucks’ usage of a caramel-coloring known to cause cancer in lab studies.

coffee.pngSo, as a consumer, what’s to be done? Shop locally!

Try the delicious honeyccino latte at the Joint if you’re craving something sweet, or grab a pour-over Mexican varietal coffee at the Wise Bean, and EVERY coffee at Full Of Crepe is from an all-organic micro-roaster. Likewise, there are plenty of local roasters that have incredible coffees that you can make at home (Rising Sun Coffee Roasters, Homestead Coffee, Rojos Roastery).

Lots of us quaff down several cups of coffee every day. A little conscious consuming can Keep You Rockin In The Free World.


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commented 2014-12-29 11:05:04 -0500 · Flag
Excellent job on this Matt! Very informative and relevant! Well done! To heck with Starbucks! Local coffee shops are where it’s at!