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Beans On The Ballot In Berkeley

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Berkeley voters are getting another chance today to show why their town is often celebrated — or derided — as a bastion of liberalism.

Measure O would make it a crime punishable by up to six months in jail for anyone to sell brewed coffee that isn´t made from the right kind of beans.

The measure says acceptable coffee must be certified as either organic, meaning grown without chemicals; shade-grown, meaning grown under trees that protect the soil and provide bird habitat, or Fair Trade, meaning growers received at least $1.26 per pound — and $1.41 per pound for organic.

Opponents called the proposal a misguided and heavy-handed effort that would stifle consumer choice, push up prices and create a new class of coffee criminals.