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  • Subject: [cg] Starbucks
  • From: Jodi Rhoden <rhoden@buncombe.main.nc.us>
  • Date: Sat, 1 May 2004 17:50:09 -0400 (EDT)
  • Importance: Normal

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

I know we all garden for different reasons, however, I feel that it is
impossible to separate the implications of gardening (self-sufficiency,
community empowerment, environmental sustainability, cultural knowledge,
the list goes on) from the wider political context.  Gardening IS
political, like it or not, so accept that there will be and should be
discussions of unions, corporate misbehavior, and classism, racism,
sexism, etc, on a community gardens listserv.  If you dont think community
gardening is political just wait until developers are ready to bulldoze
YOUR garden, or your neighbors are getting forced out of the city by
gentrification, and you will perhaps feel differently.  And SO... I would
like to address the contentious starbucks coffee grounds issue.

I think its great for gardeners to take compost from whereever we find it.
 I do not believe that starbucks' saving money by giving coffee grounds to
gardeners qualifies them as "good corporate citizens."  And its not just a
"coffee snob" issue... coffee is the second most largely traded commodity
after petrolium, and Starbucks is the worlds largest trader of coffee. 
And we all know where oil interests have taken us... tens of thousands
(perhaps millions, including oil-based sanctions) of civilian deaths in
Iraq, the overtaking of land rights from indegenous peoples on all
continents, environmental degredation, just to name a few of the
consequences.  Starbucks policies, and our choice to support or fight
them, directly impacts the lives of millions of farmers and their families
globally.  Starbucks is directly responsible for driving down the market
prices on coffee, making millions of once self-sustaining farmers in the
third world homeless, landless, hungry.  Adam, If you are a union man, you
should know that starbucks is responsible for blocking coffee growers in
south america from unionizing and forming farmer co-ops.  Starbucks is the
largest supporter, both in money and in influencing policy, of Plan Puebla
Panama, another trade/military/cultural intervention in the third world to
forcibly open up natural resources and consumer markets for exploitation
by american corporations.  (along with NAFTA, CAFTA, and the FTAA)  It has
worked to transition subsistence farmers in Asia over to cash cropping
coffee (which lessens the resilience of those farmers to famine and
drought) in order to continue to undercut the latin american market.  And
despite the rhetoric, "fair trade" coffee makes up less than one percent
of starbucks coffee sales.  In addition to cutthroat corporate behavior in
the states (a starbucks just opened up here in asheville on the same block
as City Bakery, a locally owned cafe) Starbucks is doing its part to
undermine self-determination and sustainability all over the world.  As
gardeners, we should be interested in how our neighbors in other countries
are struggling for the same basic rights as we are: self-determination,
social justice, and peace.  Thanks,
Jodi Rhoden
Bountiful Cities Project
Asheville, North Carolina

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