All coffee is grown in the rich, equatorial rainforest belt that circles the world. When Nature has her way, coffee grows naturally in the shade of rainforest trees. To boost coffee production, companies have developed coffee plants that grow faster in full sun. This means that they cut down rainforests to plant sun-loving coffee bushes.
But there’s a downside to this practice. Sunny plantations require huge applications of pesticides to fight the bugs that quickly invade. These pesticides can harm the people who actually plant the bushes and pick the beans. Plus, cutting down rainforest trees destroys the habitat for millions of rainforest animals that live there day-to-day places as well as for migrating song birds from the northern hemisphere who spend winters along the equator.
Organic coffee growers take coffee growing back to its natural roots, growing coffee in the shade and restoring the forest while they’re at it.
Organic, Shade-grown coffee:
• requires fewer pesticides and less fertilizer than coffee grown in the sun
• provides habitat for the birds and insects that devour the pests that prey on coffee plants
• keeps rainforests intact
(Here’s a great slide show from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center with more information about the benefits of shade-grown coffee.)
In addition to producing organic, shade-grown coffee, conscientious farmers can also produce it according to “fair trade” principles ensures that farmers are paid a living wage for their crop.
Does it matter? You bet. After oil, coffee is the second largest import in the United States. U.S. consumers drink one-fifth of the world’s coffee, making us the largest consumers of coffee in the world. It also makes the U.S. coffee industry extremely competitive on all fronts. The more we demand organic, shade-grown coffee, the more we can impact the entire coffee industry – and have a significant environmental impact, as well.
For Your Shopping List
You can buy coffee that is “triple certified” to be organic, fair trade, and shade-grown from these companies:
Ask your grocery store to carry organic, shade-grown, coffee. Request it at coffee shops, restaurants, donut shops, and cafes, too.
Shift and Save: Reusable Coffee Filters
Rather than use a bleached paper filter, try a reusable filter that minimizes the paper you throw away every day and saves money in the long run on replacing paper filters.
“Coffee Sock” Reusable Cotton Filter
Bald Mountain Coffee Company (23K Gold plated stainless steel microscreen)