March 29, 2012

Starbucks Gone Buggie!!!!

Giant coffee retailer Starbucks is generating negative buzz with the revelation that some of their drink & food products contain a red food coloring made from squashed insects!  This article is one of many stating that a Starbucks spokesperson confirmed the usage of "cochineal extract — made from the bodies of ground-up cochineal beetles" in at least two well-known Starbucks products:  the Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino, and the Red Velvet Whoopie Pies.  

Apparently this switch to insect parts is part of a Starbucks initiative to become more "natural" and use more "natural" ingredients.  Well, I guess insects are "natural" in the sense that you can go out in the backyard and step on one, and it's "natural" because it's outdoors in a natural setting.  However, adding ground-up insects to your "fancy" treats is pretty gross, especially when Starbucks could use something else for the red food coloring, like red beets, black carrots or purple sweet potatoes.  These vegetables are natural, too, and I'm sure can even be grown organic.  If Starbucks wants to become more eco-friendly and natural, while appealing to the health-conscious masses, then perhaps they should get a clue and use organic produce in their products, instead of disgusting squashed up insects!  Yuck!  

Now to add another twist to this interesting situation:  do you know what Vegans and Jews have in common?  No, this is not the start of some weird racial joke.  Vegans hate what Starbucks is doing, because insects are part of the animal kingdom and certainly NOT vegan, and Jews cannot eat insects because they are not Kosher.  So there are a lot of angry people out there right now, who may stop buying Starbucks' products altogether.  

I occasionally give my patronage to Starbucks and I'm not ashamed of it.  But I very much prefer the smaller, locally-owned coffee shops, because they typically have nicer quality of products, more options (like more flavors), they remember me and my order, and they offer financial incentives like frequent customer punch cards, reduced-price daily drink specials, and sometimes they give me a discount just because they're feeling particularly happy or generous that day.  Does Starbucks EVER do anything like that to keep me returning?  Nope, never.  As a matter of fact, Starbucks insists on charging me an extra 60 cents just for soy milk instead of dairy milk.  I've suspected for some time that I might be slightly lactose-intolerant, because sometimes ice cream and milk make my stomach upset.  So I always choose to avoid that by drinking soy milk.  But Starbucks punishes me for my lactose-intolerance (something that is NOT my fault and I wish I didn't have to deal with) by charging me MORE for soy milk.  That is stupid, not to mention rude, because soy milk does not cost any more to purchase than dairy milk does.  So jacking up the price for soy milk makes no sense and causes me to choose to purchase my coffee treat at someplace other than Starbucks, a place that does NOT charge me extra for soy milk.  

On a related note, my husband is deathly allergic to dairy and thus dairy milk, so he does not enjoy coffee and really does not care for tea.  He enjoys hot apple cider, which Starbucks claims to carry.  But Starbucks' apple "cider" is not really cider, it is plain old apple JUICE, in all its over-processed, over-sugared, over-filtered glory.  Starbucks buys apple "juice" and passes it off as apple "cider," but there is a huge difference between the two (in harvest process, quality, health benefits, and taste), and so my husband no longer buys his apple "juice" from Starbucks, who is simply trying to be cheap and cut corners.  You can read a brief article here about some differences between apple juice and apple cider.  So we are just an example of yet two more customers Starbucks has lost.  

What about you?  What do you think of this new development of squashed-up insects as food coloring?  Is it gross?  Do you not care?  Let me know!

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  1. In defense of Starbucks...get a Starbucks card. Just buy a gift card, put whatever amount of $$ you want on it and register. Rewards include: free shots of flavor, free soy milk, free refills on brewed coffee/tea, free drink on birthday, free drink wtih purchase of beans, free drink ever certain number of purchases.

    The reason their soymilk is more expensive, I imagine, is because it is organic and their milk is not. Organic soy milk is more expensive than non-organic milk.

  2. Anna,
    Yes you're right, Starbucks does have some incentives. Before I lived near him, my father-in-law used to send me Starbucks gift cards a lot. I registered 2 or 3 of them but they always ran out of money before I got any of the benefits from the rewards program, and I never had any cash to add more money to the card myself. And, Starbucks only allows you to register a maximum of 2 or 3 cards, ever, so even though I had all these gift cards, I could not register any more of them for the rewards. There was no way for me to "unregister" an old card and register a new one, but I wish there had been. So yes, Starbucks does have some incentives, but I think it stinks that there's a maximum number of gift cards you can register. My experience with Starbucks gift cards was not that rewarding, but yes, lots of people love the rewards Starbucks offers! Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. I think you can use one card to load money on another. I've never had any problems because we just use one card, we don't go to Starbucks often, and when one/both of us are going to go, we make sure the card is with us. That way we're earning benefits on ONE, so we get the rewards faster.

    We have an auto-load set-up, so when it gets below $10 I think it automatically charges our credit card...they were having a deal so we got a free pound of coffee for setting this up :)

    The rewards with our Starbucks card are greater than any local shop I've ever found. I like supporting the local, but I need the best deal for my money and that's Starbucks.