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homunq comments on Money: The Unit of Caring - Less Wrong

95 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 31 March 2009 12:35PM

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Comment author: homunq 09 December 2011 03:20:06PM 1 point [-]

I've harvested both coffee and sugar, and I'd prefer doing coffee any day of the week.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 09 December 2011 04:46:23PM *  0 points [-]

Why? (I'm not doubting you; I'm interested in the details.)

I'm also curious why China has so many coffee plantations, but so few coffee drinkers.

Comment author: homunq 10 December 2011 03:29:12PM *  3 points [-]

Let me first clarify that I've only spent about a half-day at each, so I don't pretend to be an expert.

Harvesting coffee is picking beans in the shade. You have to carry the beans you've picked, and that is getting heavier, but really it's not disagreeable work.

Harvesting sugar cane is swinging a heavy machete in the hot sun. If the field was burned first, you're breathing ashes; if it wasn't (I hear) the leaves are sharp-edged. It's really worse in every way.

Ecologically, coffee is also much superior; it's a perennial plant which grows in a more-diverse ecosystem with less need for chemical inputs.

By the way, while coffee-exporting countries are often sugar-exporters as well, good-quality coffee grows at a higher elevation than sugar cane, so they're not actually direct substitute crops.