Melodramatic over Milk

The fights about food, name calling and twitter battles over #organicmilknext make me want to scream.

Some of the things I am reading make me so mad I want to just jump through this computer and pummel something.

Ugh!!! How could these people not listen to REASON?! How can they believe these LIES?! How is it possible that they believe this propaganda is SCIENCE?!

But when I step back from my emotional (and maybe melodramatic ;)) response, I realize that they probably think the exact same thing about me.

Because nowadays, food is personal.

And thanks to the lovely interweb we are all insufferable know-it-alls with limitless amounts of information (correct or not) at the first page of a google search. (because who goes beyond the first page, seriously?)

So here's the thing. I don't care if you like organic milk, soy milk, conventional milk, rice milk, red, blue or purple milk. Maybe you don't even like milk. Thankfully we live in a nation where we have the freedom to choose and just like anything else we should never force our choices on others.

So why do we feel the need to do that with food? Because if you don't like what I like then obviously we should be mortal enemies and fight to the death on Twitter.

Um..... no.

If you want to drink organic milk then by all means please do so. I support organic farmers and conventional farmers. Both produce a product that people desire and provide a wider selection of choice in the grocery aisle.

But if I want conventionally raised milk, shouldn't I get a choice too?

Because believe it or not, I would choose conventional, but that's because of my personal values and beliefs and I wouldn't force it upon you.

So why are we attacking each other over what we put in our mouths? Why are we attacking businesses when we can vote with our dollars? Why are we calling each other names and creating hashtags that hurt other people and businesses?

When did that become okay?

I am passionate about food and agriculture. To me, it's very personal. The people who produce our food are very near and dear to my heart and someday, I hope to contribute in my own way to that effort.  Personally, I see producing commodities (organic, GMO, conventional, anything) as a privilege and a lifestyle and I know that's how most everyone who produces our food sees it.

I love Starbucks (find out how much here), I love dairy farmers (both conventional and organic) and I also love corn farmers. I don't like it when someone attacks me or the people I love and that's exactly how #organicmilknext makes me feel.

If you are someone who wants more organic options as a Starbucks customer then by all means ask for it! I'm sure they appreciate your business and would listen to reasonable suggestions. But campaigning against them in order to force a business to source only organic milk is first of all rude (insert Bon Qui Qui finger wave here) and you are asking to take away my choice of conventional milk. Also this campaign is potentially trying to fulfill a need/want that is nonexistent. The reason these arguments get so heated is because there are people on both ends of the spectrum so why not compromise?

Here's some economics for you.

Starbucks uses an average of 93 million gallons of milk per year which equals about 780 million pounds of milk. In 2008 U.S. total organic milk production was about 2.8 billion pounds meaning that if Starbucks sourced only organic milk they would consume about one third of the total organic dairy production. One third. That's a lot of milk.

The cost of production is greater for organic milk than conventional. This not only means an increase in price but an increase in demand for organic or non GMO feed corn. All of this leads to an increase in cost of production, cost of milk and the cost will eventually come to the Starbucks consumer.

I don't know about you, but personally my favorite latte is already pretty expensive.

I get that the whole purpose of this is to get Starbucks to commit to changing to organic and then in time the production will increase with demand.

I get that it is about changing our food system and eating healthier and sustainability and I will admit that organic is definitely a part of that. However, conventional agriculture is too. And in my opinion, it's a much bigger player than organic.

I'm not saying it's better, just that it's bigger and remember that bigger doesn't mean badder. To create a sustainable food system we need both. We need options.

So can there be room for both conventional and organic milk at the coffee table?

That way we both can enjoy our coffee. =)

Until next time,

The Hummingbird.

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