many paths

coffee-by-Julius Schorzman-from-wpthere are many paths to coffee and tea, but they all lead us eventually to far-away places. that’s cuz coffee only grows in far-away places, like colombia, ethiopia, or sumatra. what we drink, how we drink, and even why we drink bring us closer to those far-away places. when sip, we make neighbours with the growers and harvesters, and that’s just the beginning. photo by julius schorzman from wikipedia.

this year coming up (2013) karma in penetang is moving from a sole proprietorship to a co-operative (co-op), about which i’ve blogged recently, twice. karma sells far more than coffee and tea; however, no one offers their wide range of food, beverages, dry goods, and crafts, whereas many places sell coffee and tea. also, since i drink coffee, i have a personal interest. so i’ll focus on coffee and tea.

initially, the many paths referred to the many ways of selling coffee retail, but when you think about it, most of us walk one or two or many paths not just selling and drinking coffee, but growing, harvesting, roasting, selecting, brewing, and composting too.

even within the two main retail routes, co-operative and competitive, there are many paths. sometimes the distinction between co-operative and competitive blurs: there are co-ops which seem like any other business, competing for that almighty dollar, and there are comps which are very involved in the community, sharing space, resources, and information for the benefit of all.

regardless of whether you buy from a co-op or not, your dollar is a vote. just as you pay your taxes and that pays the garbage collector’s salary, you pay for your coffee and that pays the server’s salary. and the retailer’s. and the roaster’s. and the shipper’s. and the harvester’s. and the grower’s. and maybe others. and helps put food on the table and texts on the school desks for their families, too. your coffee does all that!

scott campbell, co-owner of grounded coffee in midland, bought his roaster from planet bean in guelph, a co-op. it was partly a competitive business transaction–grounded coffee offers something that nobody else in the region does–and partly a sharing, a co-operation–now you can share in the fruits of the labours of some campesino in  guatemala.

and a sharing of knowledge. if you want to the difference between arabica and robusta, or the mysteries of the probat, ask scott or nicole. but if you want to find out what’s a good read or where to meditate or kinds of renewable energy, you might want to ask scott or nicole too.

grounded coffee shows you can share knowledge willingly within the competitive business model. karma has been preparing to share as a coop for a long while, and has much to learn still as it journeys down this path. different strokes for different folks. there is beauty and health in diversity.

2013’s going to be a year to watch.

vegana path i’m exploring is switching from vegetarian to vegan. this is a serious thing. apart from the moral concerns, if i don’t source b12, it can cause slow but sure irreversible damage. whether you’re an omnivore or vegetarian doesn’t matter cuz meat, eggs, and dairy have b12. but fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, don’t. also, i like dairy. so, for now, my compromise, i eat dairy half the time. i eat yoghurt or cottage cheese if the day has a ‘t’ in it–you know, tuesday, thursday, or saturday. the other days i’m a vegan and take a b12 supplement. i’m reducing my need for this stuff:

Plastic Infographic

graphic courtesy of OnlineEducation.net

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