Tuesday, April 07, 2015

2439 Coconutty

I was in a Starbucks recently and noticed a huge sign proclaiming they were now offering drinks made with Coconut Milk made exclusively from Sumatran Coconuts. Naturally I was intrigued. Or as it turned out, unnaturally.

The intrigue was because I didn't know whether there was something special about Sumatran coconuts. I figured there must be because Starbucks was making such a big deal about it. Were Sumatran coconuts more eco-friendly? Hard to believe, if they were transporting the milk all the way from Sumatra. Lotsa jet fuel involved...

Were the Sumatran coconuts full of more milk, with less pesticides, and harvested with sustainable, non-monoculture, coconut forestry techniques? Not so much. Did they take better care of their laborers? Hard to verify.

As it turns out, most of these points were virtually moot anyhow, since Starbucks coconut milk has just a tiny amount of actual coconut milk, wherever it came from. 

The ingredients list lists the first and primary ingredient as water. Then coconut cream, cane sugar, tricalcium phosphate, coconut water concentrate, natural flavors, sea salt, carrageenan, gellan gum, corn dextrin, xanthan gum, and guar gum.

All I can say is, for a product whose major purpose is to avoid the allergens of milk or soy, Starbucks sure put in a lot of questionable additives. As much as non-dairy creamer.

Carrageenan, particularly, is known to cause gut inflammation and distress not unlike the allergic reactions coconut milk is meant to prevent. And with the addition of three, count 'em three, gums -- gellan, xanthan and guar -- you'd think the product was manufactured by Wrigley.

But the nutty thing is, or perhaps I should say coconutty thing: I wouldn't have even checked if Starbucks had just had a small subtle sign saying, "coconut milk now available." 

Coco cuckoo. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

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