Consumption in today’s globalized economy makes it difficult to understand the consequences of our actions across the globe. A political-ecological lens, informed by the work of Robert Sack and Ian Cook, can help guide an analysis that geographically reconstructs supply chains and reveals the realities of consumption. This thesis applies this approach to study the externalization of cost under capitalism in the production of Argentine yerba mate, an infusion with stimulant properties long-used by indigenous peoples. The use of yerba mate has become a cornerstone of Argentine society and identity, and yerba mate processors are working to expand exports globally. In Argentina’s Misiones province, the heart of yerba mate production, the true costs of production are borne by the children, the impoverished laborers, and the environment of Argentina’s Atlantic Rainforest. These consequences of modernity, along with the efforts of an NGO to remedy them, are presented and assessed.
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