Boalt Hall Grad Works to Limit Which Coffees Cafes Can Sell





  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

"Excuse me waiter, there's the blood and misery of a thousand small farmers in my coffee," says a cartoon advocating the Coffee Initiative, a city proposition that may appear on this November's election ballot.

The initiative would restrict the sale of brewed coffee in Berkeley to Fair Trade, organic and shade-grown coffees. If approved by Berkeley voters, local businesses would only have three months to change their stock to one of the mandated coffees.

Rick Young, a recent Boalt Hall School of Law graduate and author of the initiative, said he is advocating that shops use these coffees because of their social, environmental and health benefits.

Young began over the weekend to collect the 2,000 signatures needed for the initiative to be placed on the ballot for the upcoming election.

Fair Trade certified coffee meets the standards of TransFair USA, a nonprofit monitoring organization that ensures participating traders are following guidelines such as running farms as democratic cooperatives and assuring farmers a living wage.

Organically grown coffee uses composting and recycling and avoids using pesticides, while shade-grown coffee is grown in forest-like settings and uses available plant and animal life for cultivation.

Young has said restricting the sale of brewed coffee to Fair Trade, organic and shade-grown coffees would reduce the amount of chemicals like DDT, used to grow coffee, that could get back to Berkeley. He said it also helps preserve and expand natural bird habitats.

But some local coffee shop owners say restricting the sale of coffee to Fair Trade is not an effective way to ensure ethical labor practices.

"Fair Trade guarantees a living wage, but there are other high quality coffees that guarantee workers a fair wage that just didn't join Fair Trade," said Daryl Ross, owner of Caffe Strada.

Ross, whose cafe carries Fair Trade, organic and shade-grown coffees, as well as regular coffee, also said TransFair USA's reluctance to promote Fair Trade coffee when requested and its restrictive contracts made him think the company was more profit-driven than socially conscious.

"I had to question (the company's) purpose in promoting awareness," he said. "It seemed they were just interested in selling stuff."

Additionally, restricting the type of coffee used could affect business because Fair Trade, organic and shade-grown coffees are more expensive, Daryl said.

The extra expense, however, comes out to "only pennies" more, Young said.

UC Berkeley Professor Jesse Choper, a constitutional law expert at Boalt Hall, said the sale restriction is not a violation of a Constitution clause that bans laws discriminating against other states, as critics have argued.

"It is simply a regulation in the name of good coffee," Choper said. "It is a legitimate public interest and a nondiscriminatory business regulation."

But Ross said it will affect the freedom of shop owners and customers to choose their coffees.

"(Fair Trade, organic and shade-grown coffee) is good. I support it, and I use it," Ross said. "But the idea of forcing businesses to use a certain brand of coffee is a little presumptuous."

Councilmember Betty Olds said the initiative is a ploy to drive chain coffee shops out of Berkeley.

"To say that everyone in Berkeley that wants to sell a cup of coffee has to sell a certain kind just won't work," she said.

Olds also said there are many injustices for farmers and that she does not understand "why they are picking on coffee."

But Young said it is important to support measures promoting sound ecological and health practices.

"It's not a question of restricting freedom," Young said. "(Regular) coffee affects people because of the trees being cut down, the pesticides used and migrant birds losing their habitat."

Tags:






Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
News
Image Student regent resigns after sex crime allegations
Jesse Cheng officially announced his resignation from his positio...Read More»
News
Image Pet shop may occupy planned Goodwill
After failed negotiations with the landlord and resistance from the busines...Read More»
News
Image Campus graduate takes new first steps
UC Berkeley's graduation day this year was symbolic for graduate Austin Whi...Read More»
News
Image Regents rescind part of approval
The ongoing legal battle surrounding revisions to the building plans for th...Read More»
News
Image UC spared additional cuts in budget revision
While the University of California escaped further funding reductions M...Read More»
News
Image UC Board of Regents wary of unreliable state funds
SAN FRANCISCO - Following the release of Gov. Jerry Brown's revis...Read More»
Right Arrow




Job Postings

White Space