With nearly 20,000 retail stores in over 60 countries, Starbucks is the most popular and widespread coffeehouse chain on the planet. In the past decade, Starbucks has paved the way for the modern corporate coffeehouse industry with its alleged commitment to “ethical sourcing”, “sustainability”, and consistently strong promotional marketing.
Unfortunately, while Starbucks has widely touted “ethical sourcing” and “sustainability” in their marketing material, they’ve failed to live up to the hype in reality. Right now, Starbucks is serving milk to millions of customers every day from factory farms along with baked good products chock full of genetically engineered ingredients.
As if that weren’t bad enough, as a dues paying member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Starbucks has helped lead the charge against openness and transparency in our food system by fighting against common sense GMO labeling in the U.S.
In the past 2 years alone, Starbucks has been a part of a GMA-led coalition that has donated more than $70 million dollars to defeat GMO labeling efforts in California and Washington State. During 2012, the GMA donated $2 million to defeat Prop 37 in California and last year, the GMA illegally donated $11 million as a part of a secret slush fund to defeat I-522 in Washington.
By opposing GMO labeling, Starbucks has willingly climbed in bed with Monsanto and the GMA and is intentionally misleading customers about their commitment to “sustainability” and “ethical sourcing”.
On Starbucks’ company website they state:
“We have always believed Starbucks can – and should — have a positive impact on the communities we serve. One person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
We agree, and that sounds great in theory, but what about the fact that Starbucks serves milk for their lattes and cappuccinos from cows on factory farms? We know from living in Iowa that factory farms are not sustainable and not a positive impact on our communities where they pollute our water supply, degrade our soil and depopulate rural towns.
And while we’re impressed with Starbucks’ online “Ethical Sourcing” pledge, which states:
“We’re committed to offering high-quality, ethically purchased and responsibly produced products”
…we think they fall frighteningly short by selling dairy products from factory farms where animals are fed genetically engineered grains and routinely administered antibiotics. This is not our idea of sustainable!
If they wanted, Starbucks could be a force of good and true “ethical sourcing”, instead of promoting the industrial agriculture paradigms of factory farms and Monsanto’s pesticides and GMOs. In order to do this, Starbucks needs to transition away from the factory farm model and support local, regional and organic dairy farmers.
If Starbucks could commit to that, like they have with sourcing their fair trade coffee, rural America could benefit from a resurgence in small and mid-sized organic dairy farms and Starbucks’ customers could help them lead the way by demanding this important change.
Take the pledge to boycott Starbucks until they stop fighting GMO labeling and start serving local, sustainable organic milk! Tell Starbucks it’s time to get out of bed with Monsanto and start ethically sourcing their dairy products and removing GMOs from their in-store baked goods.
It’s time that major companies like Starbucks are held accountable for their unsustainable and unethical choices that conflict with their own marketing hype. We can’t let them get away with it, just because the mainstream media refuses to do their job and report the truth.
Remember, democracy is like a muscle, use it or lose it!
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team