Image Via Georgetown University
Coffee is the 2nd most traded commodity after oil. Some claim that coffee has health benefits while others claim that it is an addictive substance that taxes the body's adrenal glands, depositing adrenaline daily into our bodies, and taking tolls on our bodies in other ways. Whatever you believe, coffee is not essential to our lives and thus it is one commodity worth considering giving up entirely in order to benefit the planet and our pocketbooks in a time of economic and ecologic peril.The Coffee bean is a comfort commodity which requires the removal of established natural areas, as well as intensive energy requirements to plant, harvest, and transport it to seasonally addicted consumers, like myself.
I seem to quit coffee about four times a year. I did the math once and found that I save about $50 a month when I am not drinking coffee. And since it is not a bean that I could grow in my own backyard, I am also saving the resources needed to deliver my fix thousands of miles from a farm in South America to my adrenal glands.
I find that it takes about two weeks to get coffee out of my system. The two weeks worth of headaches and slow brain functioning gives way to a more consistent energy flow and more vivid nightly dreams.
I understand that our coffee consumption benefits the economies of other countries. This article is written from the perspective of coffee drinkers such as myself, who don't have enough of an income to justify spending $50 a month on the stuff, especially now when we need to focus on being more domestically productive and sustainable in the long term.
I subscribe to the school of thought that if we don't demand large amounts of imported and unnecessary commodities, such as oil and coffee, that those agricultural regions can be better be used to provide essential food crops to their own region as well as neighboring regions currently undergoing serious food shortages. It is all about finding the best uses for the limited and shrinking spaces on the planet.
While this article doesn't claim that quitting coffee is THE ONE most important thing a person can do, it can be one relatively quick and easy fix. And definitely easier for some than others.
Here are some excerpts from How Stuff Works, which scientifically explain the health risks associated with coffee, caffeine specifically:
"Caffeine is trimethylxanthine (C8H10N4O2). It's an addictive stimulant drug that operates in the brain the same way amphetamines, cocaine and heroin do (although caffeine is much milder than those drugs)."
"Caffeine also increases dopamine levels in the same way that amphetamines do. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that activates pleasure centers in certain parts of the brain. Heroin and cocaine also manipulate dopamine levels by slowing down the rate of dopamine reabsorption. Obviously, caffeine's effect is much lower than heroin's, but it is the same mechanism. It is suspected that the dopamine connection contributes to caffeine addiction."
"Caffeine blocks adenosine reception so you feel alert. It injects adrenaline into the system to give you a boost. And it manipulates dopamine production to make you feel good."
"The problem with caffeine is the longer-term effects, which tend to spiral."
The article continues here. It also cites some of the claimed health benefits.
Here is a great link with coffee stats. For example, more than 450 million cups of coffee are consumed in the United States every day. That is an average of 3.5 cups a day for every coffee drinker. This is not environmentally insignificant, being that ALL coffee in America in imported.
Panda.org, internet home of the World Wildlife Fund (founded in 1961), cites the following:
"The most serious impact of coffee cultivation continues to be the conversion of natural forest areas to plant coffee."
"The large, monocrop plantations typical of full-sun plantations cause the greatest reductions in biodiversity. Studies in Colombia and Mexico indicate that full-sun coffee plantations support 90% fewer bird species than shade-grown coffee."
"Even with shade coffee the number of tree species can be reduced by 80% or more. Mammals and reptiles show declines in populations and species diversity relative to natural forests."
Read the rest of the article here.