VENUE: Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, 13325 Beach Ave, Marina del Rey, CA, 90292
At the farmers market, you can meet the farmers who grew your carrots, talk to them about their growing practices, and feel confident that your food dollars are going directly to the farm. But the path coffee travels from farm to cup is much more mysterious. How can you feel good about the businesses you’re supporting with your coffee dollars, and ensure that farmers thousands of miles away are receiving their fair share?
Most U.S. coffee drinkers have little concept of where their money goes after they order their artfully brewed cappuccino. Coffee is primarily grown in countries that have developing economies, and it is primarily consumed in countries that have developed economies—which sometimes presents moral dilemmas. The United States is the world’s top consumer of coffee (more than 400 million cups of coffee every day), while the majority of coffee is grown in equatorial countries, with Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia, and Indonesia as the largest producers.
In terms of straight out-of-pocket expense for the consumer, cups of espresso-based drinks often cost about $4.00. However, there is more to the price tag than just the cost to the consumer. According to the online encyclopedia eHow.com, approximately 6.5 million trees are used each year to make 16 billion paper coffee cups used by Americans. They report that the standard polyethylene coating used to prevent leaks, “as the cups decompose…releases methane.”
Therefore, if you are one of the millions of Americans who drink coffee in one of these 16 billion paper cups, the cost of your cup of coffee is a bit more significant. Your cup of coffee represents extravagant deforestation and coupled with the release of a pollutant more potent than carbon dioxide. As a natural sponge for the world’s pollutants, forests absorb methane, but they can be crippled in their sponging function by deforestation.