How Starbucks broke my heart.
This has nothing to do with cups. It doesn’t even have anything to do with what’s inside the cups.
Let me start by telling you just how much I used to love Starbucks.
It was a lot.
As I type this, I’m sipping coffee from a Starbucks mug. In fact, when I made my coffee this morning, and reached for a clean mug, I realized that more than half of the mugs I have in my apartment are from Starbucks. There are even tumblers and travel mugs, too.
Books from the Starbucks’ CEO are on my shelves. I have a Starbucks gold card with my name printed on it that I earned in 2010 after many years of soy lattes. It’s been a staple of my life for many, many years.
It’s not necessarily because of the delicious way they press a machiatto, or their addictive hot chocolate. It’s that, plus a lot of other things I once loved about the coffee giant. I loved the atmosphere. The culture.
I hated it when people would bash Starbucks for selling CDs or having special terms for their sizes — all of that boiled down to the culture of Starbucks. The fact that it was based on that feeling you get when you’re in a fine coffee house in Europe and all the little things add up to this one, giant feeling of pure perfection.
And there was this other thing about the culture; the fact that the money I spent on delicious coffee was going to other good things like great benefits for the employees, and fair wages for the farmers who nurtured the beloved coffee beans from around the globe (Starbucks is 100% ethically sourced).
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Blake MyCoskie, the founder of Toms Shoes, speak on how he created his business. He said when Toms Shoes began, he realized just how much people love to buy something if they know that their purchase makes them a part of something great.
That’s how I felt about Starbucks. It really pissed me off when people would bitch about the price of coffee at Starbucks — we weren’t paying for just the brand, we were paying for those benefits, fair wages, and that moment you get when you get that first sip of the peppermint mocha.
After all, I can chose to spend my money on whatever I please. And the same people complaining about overpriced coffee and anti-Christmas cups are the same people who shop at Wal-Mart (known for its low wages and poor working conditions) and eat at Chik-fil-a (right-winged, anti-gay). Two companies I gave up years ago.
Even Toms Shoes is aligned with right-wing activist groups (although MyCoskie has issued an apology for it), and even Starbucks has it’s problems.
Last week, a friend told me Starbucks’ products were full of GMOs, and not only that, but they donated $70 million to fight GMO-labeling laws.
My quest to be healthier started about four years ago, with regular fitness, detox, and healthy eating. I’ll admit, I haven’t always bought the organic craze, and I understand how difficult it is for companies to migrate from using GMOs — they are everywhere. Thanks, Monsanto.
Not familiar with GMOs? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and they are created when the DNA from other plants, animals, and bacteria are injected into cells of another group, say, a plant seed. That seed then can grow despite being sprayed with pesticide, poison, or whatever. GMOs weren’t around at the dawn of time, so it adversely affects those who eat them — humans and animals alike. Here’s a good article on the basics of GMOs.
So, Starbucks is a part of the Grocer’s Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), along with several other giants like Coca-Cola, Clorox, Proctor & Gamble, etc. And the GMA is supporting anti-GMO-labeling laws. These laws make it okay for companies to NOT mention that their products are chock-full of GMOs.
Starbucks claims that forcing a company to put something on their label affects their first amendment to free speech.
Oh, Starbucks, you sneaky little bitch! You KNOW how much free speech means to me! But I also believe I have a right to know what’s in the food I eat. And the latter of those beliefs has an effect on my health, and perhaps, on my life.
There are two main things that bother me about Starbucks going arm-in-arm with Monsanto (home of GMO pesticide, complete with government ties):
- I was tricked. This entire time, I thought Starbucks was a GREAT company. And to make matters worse, even Starbucks is saying all of these GMO-labeling accusations are false, that it’s the GMA fighting the fight. No, Starbucks, no. You don’t get to play that game. If you’re guilty, fess up.
- I have no control where my money goes. For years, I thought my money was supporting the causes I care about, only to find out that it’s been going to support Monsanto.
When the Chik-fil-a fiasco happened, a former coworker told me that she would never boycott a company just because of the founder’s beliefs or what they supported — “There’d be nowhere to go,” she said.
I disagree. There ARE companies out there that do good; that believe the same things I believe. And it’s my right to spend my money where I choose. If we don’t stand for something, what are we living for? Honestly.
And if I’m being honest, I will say that the whole part of using GMO milk and selling baked goods sprinkled with poison, bothers me LESS than the whole $70 million to support anti-GMO-labeling.
When I go into a store, I can make a choice as to buy an organic chicken that’s eaten a GMO-free diet. Or, I can get the cheap shit. That is my choice. I can even still go to Starbucks and get a plain coffee with a splash of coconut milk and I can walk out GMO-free. But that sale goes to support something terrible. And I just cannot live with that.
So, I’m in the process of finding a new coffee shop to love. One that serves delicious drinks, and doesn’t support GMOs.
It’s minimal, but in addition to boycotting Starbucks, I’ve signed a petition in hopes that one day, Starbucks can make the switch and support GMO-labeling. You can sign it, too!
Want more info on Monsanto, GMOs, the GMA, and where to find a decent coffee shop? Here you go:
- Celebrities Against GMOs
- Find products that are certified Non-GMO
- Tips for going organic
- GMA Board, Councils, & Committees