The Pumpkin Spice Latte… Without Actual Pumpkin: Symptom or Cause of Our Processed Food Disease?

pumpkin spice latte

pumpkin spice latte

Apparently, someone once thought it would be a really great idea to shove a pumpkin pie into a coffee maker. Or something like that happened and—voila!—the pumpkin spice latte was born. Now, some people hope to see it disappear. But is it really the problem or the symptom?

Was there ever any question that the pumpkin spice latte is an indulgent, decadent and completely unnecessary ‘beverage’ tailored to privileged affluent Americans? Of course not. But people drink them anyway, kicking off their holiday season with frothy cinnamon and nutmeg cheer.

Vani Hari, the blogger better known as “Food Babe” has launched a “where’s the pumpkin?” campaign taking aim at Starbucks for (conspicuously?) leaving out the pumpkin in its popular pumpkin spice latte. Now, the internet is all squashed up about it (see what I did there?).

pumpkin spice latte

Don’t we have better things to do than bash pumpkin spice lattes for their ingredients? Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for healthy foods. And the pumpkin spice latte is certainly not one. But let’s dig into this a little further:

It’s called a pumpkin spice latte. And I do believe the emphasis is accurately reflected on “spice.” Because putting actual pumpkin into coffee would be pretty darn disgusting. Food Babe, bless her busy little heart, seems to be missing this major point in blasting Starbucks for not including pumpkin in this beverage. The drink is meant to remind its consumers of the spicy, sweet, creamy goodness that makes pumpkin pies so delicious. That’s more the spice and the sugar and the whipped topping than it is the fleshy orange fruit.

There are egregious violations of what constitutes food (or drink) in Starbucks’ latte, as Hari points out. You won’t get any argument from me there. But even if it included actual pumpkin, it’s still meant to be a cloying, unhealthy occasional treat. Yes, there are chemicals and foodlike substances in it, but isn’t the bigger issue that we’re still paying upwards of $5 for a single cup of coffee instead of eating healthy, less expensive food (like fresh pumpkin)? Or instead of helping to feed the many starving people right in our country staring out Starbucks windows in a sugary haze?

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