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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spill the Beans – An Eco-Friendly Coffee Approach

When you're looking for an eco-friendly jolt of java, don't become intimidated by the assortment of labels attached to the fresh scent of caffeine found at your local retailers and specialty shops. What exactly does Fair Trade mean? And, what makes a coffee bean organic? Hopefully, I can shed a bit of light on how to take an eco-friendly approach towards your next cup of coffee. Fair Trade Certified Have you ever come across the International Fairtrade Certification Mark when purchasing a product? Fair Trade products mean that the workers providing the beans for your next mocha chocolate latte have been paid a living wage of at least $1.26 per pound. You're probably wondering how fair pay is eco-friendly, but if workers are able to make sustainable wages, then farmers are not forced to follow practices that cause harm to the environment. If you don’t see a "Fair Trade Certified" logo, then you're more than likely not buying Fair Trade coffee beans. USDA-Certified Organic Thanks to the United States Department of Agriculture, the certifications of coffee beans under this category are monitored, as well as grown without the aid of chemical-ridden pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides. When following organic farming practices, the local ecosystem benefits. Farmers, workers, and residents aren’t exposed to hazardous chemicals. Most importantly, you do not consume any chemicals when sipping on a fresh cup of organic coffee. Shade Grown Sadly, some coffee producers destroy rainforests and other pieces of land in order to provide direct sunlight for the growth of their beans. In the process, a great deal of natural habitat for many migratory birds and other native species is lost. To make matters worse, coffee crops suffer attacks from pests that enjoy the open invitation of shadeless plants. As a result, farmers resort to harmful fertilizers and pesticides. If you purchase shade-grown coffee beans, the surrounding forest was left intact, which does not threaten rainforest conservation or species preservation. Shade-grown coffee is also identified with certified seals and labels from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) or the Rainforest Alliance. Rainforest Alliance Certified Purchasing coffee that carries the Rainforest Alliance seal of approval means that the coffee was grown in the shade with the use of low to zero pesticides. Workers were also cared for under the standards of the International Labor Organization. Sustainable practices are verified when farms meet requirements, including the presence and maintenance of diverse species. Where to Get Eco-Friendly Coffee? National chains, such as Safeway and Trader Joes, carry fair trade coffee. You can find organic and fair-trade selections at health food stores and specialty shops. If you still need help locating fair trade coffee in your neck of the woods, contact Transfair USA at 510-663-5260 or visit Mail order and online retailers are also excellent sources of eco-friendly coffee, including the following businesses:

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Blogger Samantha Cummings said...

Wow! I had no idea about 'shade grown' coffee - very informative. Coffee is by far my favorite drink!

3/30/2009 09:11:00 AM  

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