On any given day, more than 500 customers walk bleary-eyed into an average Starbucks store. With more than 24,000 stores globally, that’s 12 million people drinking Starbucks each day. With that many people visiting their stores each day, their coffee purchases account for 2 percent of all global coffee bean purchases. Starbucks has a lot of clout when it comes to the coffee-buying industry.
Starbucks’s role as a key player in the market makes its practices all the more important. Since 2009, when the company’s poor financial performance inspired CEO Howard Shultz to revolutionize their business practices, the company has focused on improving their impacts on the community and the environment. Read More >
“You can’t assume that a high price means good working conditions, or that by paying a high price you’re paying for environmental sustainability,” advises Kim Elena Ionescu, Chief Sustainability Officer for the Specialty Coffee Association. I was speaking with her in an effort to explore some ethical dilemmas surrounding coffee and what we as consumers can do about them. Of the millions of cups of coffee sipped globally each day, only a small fraction of the final sale price reaches the farmers who grew the coffee, who often live in impoverished conditions. Read More >
I drove slowly along the country road in mountainous Boonsboro, Maryland, looking for a large greenhouse facility, which is typically the marker of a commercial aquaponics farm, where fish and plants are grown together in a re-circulating water system. Instead, all I found was a small sign for “South Mountain MicroFARM” posted next to a gravel driveway in front of a modest home. I turned into the driveway, headed down the hill, and was met by a smiling Levi Sellers, operator of South Mountain MicroFARM. Levi led me farther down the hill, past their family’s Christmas tree farm, to the impressive new barn and greenhouse structure that houses their recently established aquaponics operation. Read More >
In a quiet corner store off a busy intersection in Arusha, Tanzania, I chose a vibrant cloth package of coffee. On a side street in Rome, I picked up a small, compressed foil packet labeled “Fantasia” off a candy shop shelf. In a kafehaus in Denmark, an attendant in an old-fashioned apron and puffy sleeves ground aromatic beans into a lime green plastic sachet before sliding it over the counter with deft movements. All around the world, coffee is roasted, purchased and consumed constantly. In fact, 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed annually. That’s 1.1 billion cups daily! Read More >
The morning of April 1 greeted us with freezing rain, slush-covered sidewalks and a forecast of snow throughout the day. This was not a mean-spirited April Fools’ Day joke, just spring in New England. Claire Fitch and I were in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to participate in the third annual “Just Food?” forum at Harvard Law School. This year’s event, a collaboration between the Harvard Law School Food Law Society and the Harvard Food Literacy Project and cosponsored by the Food Law and Policy Clinic, was focused on labor across the food system. The forum featured about 30 speakers, lunchtime documentary film screenings, and session topics ranging from agricultural worker rights and wages in the restaurant industry to regulatory and market driven models for reform. Read More >
click to enlarge map of slaughter facilities in Maryland
Memorial Day weekend—a time to gather with friends and family, honor those who died while serving in the military, and celebrate the warmer summer months to come. And for many, it’s a time to clean off and fire up the old grill.
As the holiday weekend approaches, you may find yourself thinking about where to buy your hamburgers and other grilling essentials. Should you visit your neighborhood farmers market and buy from a local farmer? Or head over to the family-owned butcher shop down the street? Or maybe you will scour the grocery shelves for any sign of products from a local farm. Read More >
I was first introduced to labor rights in the food industry after watching the documentary Food Chain$. The film, which was screened in Baltimore, exposes the plight of Immokalee tomato pickers, organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), and their goal of raising wages by a penny a pound for tomatoes picked in Florida. They were successful in convincing most retailers and wholesalers to meet their demands, and CIW received national attention when the Obama Administration issued them a Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. These high-profile campaigns are raising awareness among consumers and challenging food companies to discuss labor rights. Read More >
“Farmers are the best preservationists,” said Maryland Senate President Thomas V. (Mike) Miller. “They’re God-fearing, law-abiding, loyal, hardworking people. And agriculture is the Number One business in Maryland.”
Yesterday morning the Maryland State Assembly began its session, and kicking it off was a summit convened in Annapolis by Baltimore radio show host Marc Steiner at WEAA (88.9 FM) and cosponsored by the CLF. The issues that seemed to burn the brightest were those around education, felons’ voting rights, and the opioid epidemic, as well as a short discussion about police brutality—although questions of conservation and agriculture Read More >
Screening of Food Chain$ at Red Emma’s, Baltimore.
“Anyone can give charity but to give justice to someone who demands it is harder to do.” —quotation from the film Food Chain$
On Thursday, February 12, more than 125 people came out to Red Emma’s Bookstore and Café for a screening and discussion of the new documentary film Food Chain$. The event, co-sponsored by The Baltimore Food & Faith Project and The Marc Steiner Show, revealed how the historical injustices of farm labor persist even today in our food supply chain, and how large produce buyers like fast food and supermarkets are complicit Read More >
Weeding sugar beets near Ft. Collins, 1972.
Opponents of immigration reform have jumped on the Ebola crisis, stigmatizing immigrants regardless of whether they came from an Ebola-affected country or not. These opponents falsely claim that immigrants, especially undocumented ones, are a risk to the public’s health due to all the nasty diseases they might be carrying!
In fact, the real risk to public health comes from the environmental and working hazards that immigrants, who make up 72% of the agricultural workforce in the United States, are exposed to on a daily basis while maintaining our nation’s food supply. (The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future recently called for action to address the public health risks that immigrant and migratory agricultural workers are Read More >