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The Role Of International Coffee Policy On Globalizaiton, 1960 1965

1766 words - 7 pages

The coffee economy itself is not directly responsible for social unrest and repression; we should not confuse a correlation with a cause. Inequities and frustrations built into the economic system nonetheless exacerbate conflicts. Compared with many other products developed countries demand in cheap quantity, however, coffee is relatively benign. Laboring on banana, sugar, or cotton plantations or sweating in gold and diamond mines and oil refineries is far worse. The vast majority of coffee is grown on tiny plots by peasants who love their trees and the ripe cherries they produce.As the anthropologist Eric Wolf observed in his classic 1982 work Europe and the People Without History, "the world of humankind constitutes . . . a totality of interconnected processes." Coffee provides one fascinating thread, stitching together the disciplines of history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, medicine, and business, and offering a way to follow the interactions that have formed a global economy. (Clarence-Smith 1-22; Talbot 12-13) While this history has concentrated solely on coffee, similar stories could be told for other products. The European countries extracted furs, silver, gold, diamonds, slaves, spices, sugar, tea, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, opium, rubber, palm oil, and petroleum from Asia, Africa, and the Americas. As North America, taken over by white Europeans, developed industrially, it too joined the conquest, particularly of Latin America.Over 22 percent of the world's production is consumed where it is grown. Brazilians have grown so fond of the beverage that some experts predict Brazil will eventually become a net importer of coffee. Caffeine is the most widely taken psychoactive drug on earth, and coffee is its foremost delivery system. "Today, most of the world's population, irrespective of geographic location, gender, age, or culture consumes caffeine daily," writes Jack James, author of two books on caffeine. "Global consumption has been estimated to be 120,000 tons of caffeine per annum. This is the approximate equivalent of one caffeine- containing beverage per day for each of the globe's five billion or more inhabitants." In the United States, around 90 percent of the population habitually takes caffeine in one form or another-including plain caffeinated water.Is this bad? Humans clearly crave stimulating concoctions, drinking, chewing, or smoking some form of drug in virtually every culture in the form of alcohol, coca leaves, kava, marijuana, poppies, mushrooms, qat, betel nuts, tobacco, coffee, kola nuts, yoco bark, guayusa leaves, yaupon leaves (cassina), maté, guarané; nuts, cacao (chocolate), or tea. Of those in the list above, caffeine is certainly the most ubiquitous-appearing in the last nine items. Indeed, caffeine is produced by more than sixty plants, although coffee beans provide about 54 percent of the world's jolt, followed by tea and soft drinks. As cartoonist Robert Therrien has a character proclaim,...

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