The main table was full, so I sat down at a small empty table nearby. Soon I was eating dinner and speaking with Wendell Berry. The annual meeting of Lindisfarne is happening at Upaya this week. What an amazing group of people.
Tomorrow I’ll take some photos.
Berry! Must have been a great conversation :)
From the Wikipedia entry on Berry: “…The threats Berry finds to this good life include: industrial farming and the industrialization of life, ignorance, hubris, greed …”
It is an Interesting coincidence that you have a post on Starbucks just a few articles down … Starbucks seems to be emblematic of the industrialization of life and corporate hubris and greed …
Since when does drinking a coffee at Starbucks entail subscribing to all that it stands for philosophically, rather than just wanting a coffee?
Since the beginning of time, Adam. One doesn’t just want coffee. By buying coffee at Starbucks one supports a corporate giant who ruins local coffee culture. It’s similar with Wal-Mart and others. But, I’ll give you that sometimes we don’t have a choice- we end up at Starbucks or have to go without coffee.
Alright, I can agree with you there – a lot of it is certainly consumer-driven but then (like you say), Starbucks hurts local coffee culture the way it does in large part by taking away the consumer’s choice in the first place. It’s a two-way street, you know? Corporate giants don’t arise without a cultural base to grow on.
True. The cultural base allowed it to happen. That does not make it right.
AdamSoloman: “Since when does drinking a coffee at Starbucks entail subscribing to all that it stands for philosophically, rather than just wanting a coffee?”
Well, in addition to Ottmar’s response, Starbucks, et. al., has massive GLOBAL effects as well. Let me quote from the Organic Consumers Association from September of 2007: “Despite close to ten years of consumer and farmer demands, Starbucks has refused to increase their purchase of certified Fair Trade and Organic coffee to a respectable level. To date, only 6% of Starbucks’ coffee is certified Fair Trade. High quality certified Fair Trade and Organic coffee is readily available and represents a concrete way to support small-scale coffee farmers abroad…” Don’t forget that all the while this is going on, their retail prices and profit margins have continued to rise.
Wal-Mart is guilty of similar exploitation with many of their vendors. This too has been well documented. Neither Starbucks nor Wal-Mart, from a corporate standpoint are good trade citizens, and continue to exploit the third-world.
As Ottmar indicated, you don’t just “want coffee” or just “want shoes” … your patronage of Starbucks, Wal-Mart, et. al. has economic effects all over, including the third-world, which these two corporations are particularly guilty of exploiting.
And, if we don’t provide these farmers with income that will allow them to feed their families and sustain themselves, they will replace their coffee crops with something that will … like opium.
But here in the West, we have a difficult time understanding the consequences of our actions.
That, plus we don’t “go without” very well. It just isn’t in our culture.
Yes, Instant Coffee or Instant Gratification comes with a high price.