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July 3rd, 2013 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Mocha-vores

Is there a locally grown morning jump-start?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

Portland is the land of the coffee hound, but it’s also the home of zealous locavores. Coffee won’t grow anywhere near Oregon, so it’s hard to be both of those things at the same time. Is there a locally grown morning jump-start?

—Seeking Unified Field Theory

Depends on your definition of “grown.” I can think of at least one locally produced product that’ll jump-start your morning so hard you’ll still be badgering Plaid Pantry clerks for scratch-off tickets 36 hours after takeoff, but it might not be worth the hit to your self-respect, teeth and child-custody arrangements.

It’s true that the supply chain that ferries tropical treats like coffee into our rapacious First-World kissers belches a not-insignificant amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into our long-suffering and increasingly revenge-minded environment.

However, carbon-footprint researchers say the main GHG “hot spots” for coffee are the farm where the stuff is grown and the house where you brew it.

Yes, firing up your stove, drip-coffee machine or—God forbid—espresso maker to brew a cup actually rapes the environment harder than the entire trip from South America to here. (Don’t even get me started on the 4,000-pound car you use to bring one pound of beans from the store to your house.) As always, it’s your First-World consumer lifestyle, not food transport, that’s the real problem.

Be a locavore if you want—it’s not useless. But if it’s a choice between driving five miles to the farmers market for locally grown produce and riding your bike to Safeway and buying whatever the hell you want—well, get on your bike.

Look, I know you: You’re not going to stop driving, eating chocolate or heating your house. Why not try having fewer kids? It reduces your carbon footprint enormously while (entirely coincidentally) making restaurant dining vastly more pleasant for aging newspaper columnists.


QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com

 
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