Opinions

The Problem with Pumpkin Spice

 

pumpkin-spice-latte.jpgAndrew Oliver 
  Staff Writer

As if there is nothing more pressing going on, this autumn you are likely to hear many complaining about Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte for no good reason, other than the fact that others seem to enjoy it so very much. However, much to the the chagrin of those who do enjoy this drink’s nostalgic, spicy flavor, there are some real reasons to boycott the beverage this season. Perhaps, there may be cause to boycott the establishment as a whole.

For starters, the health hazard of drinking one these Starbucks drinks should not be ignored. While any reasonable individual probably does not expect something called a Pumpkin Spice Latte to be particularly healthy, it comes with some very real issues for those who overindulge to their delight.

According to registered dietitian nutritionist Sonya Angelone, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Starbucks PSL’s pack more sugar than their regular Caffe Latte counterparts – 50 grams to 18. In the Caffe Latte, there are 5 calories from fat. In the Pumpkin Spice Latte, there are 160.

The added fats and sugars also contribute to increased blood clot risk, and the chemicals used to imitate the pumpkin flavor (because no, it’s not really pumpkin and cinnamon as we all hope) eugenol and sabinene have been found to be toxic to human cells, according to a United States House of Representatives Report from 1989.

Eugenol specifically has been found to lead to complications including Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Fulminant Hepatic (liver) Failure, and Central Nervous System Depression when ingested in consistent amounts.

That being said, if you are one who samples (rather than devours) this specialty drink, you should probably be relatively fine. As a treat and not an everyday order, the trendily nicknamed “PSL” probably will do little to no harm. Moderation, as always, is key.

Setting the health risks aside, there are other pressing reasons as to why one might distance themselves from the seasonal beverage. It is not specific to Pumpkin Spice, but this involves the coffee company’s practices as whole.

Starbucks has done a very fine job keeping some of the bad news quiet on their trade front. The international company recently made a move to block the Ethiopian governmental effort to trademark several of their own nation’s world-renowned coffee beans.

The initiative by Ethiopia was started in order to safeguard the country’s coffee industry from global and colonial elements from the corporate industry that has done very little to help the country as a whole. Instead, their actions and dealings have done much to harm the people and workers who live there.

While Starbucks regularly brags in advertising and promotions that its coffee is fairtrade and “ethically sourced,” the Specialty Coffee Association of America has stated that, while the company really is trying, there is no way to reasonably tell how ethical the agricultural practices are on some of the coffee farms they use, and that they are likely still utilizing the labor of school-aged children. This leaves no guarantees as to how humane this autumn latte order is in reality.

This is what goes in each and every Pumpkin Spice Latte: chemicals, heart disease, and possible unethical labor practices. Could someone say that this perspective of the trendy fall beverage and its main seller is a little dramatic?

Maybe so, considering the many other major companies in the United States and abroad that are far less ethical in their peddling of far more unhealthy food and drinks to consumers worldwide. Still, it stands to be repeated here in our country, where our fellow citizens are becoming increasingly aware of what their major corporations are doing and how they are doing it.

Either way, to those who love complaining about Pumpkin Spice Lattes and their popularity so much: you now finally have something real to complain about.

 

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