Coffee Drinkers Can Make a Difference

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Need that cup of Joe to jump start your day? You may not realize it, but if your coffee is not “shade-grown”, you are contributing to a serious environmental problem. Due to the enormous demand for coffee, countless farmers have been clearing the land of rich forests that have been traditionally used to grow coffee beans.  Many now grow higher-yielding, sun-loving, hybrid varieties that require vast amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  These newer farming methods deplete and erode the soil, as well as result in a loss of wildlife and songbird habitat.

So, what’s a java drinker to do? You can use your power as a consumer to purchase, and increase demand for, “shade-grown” coffee and experience the many benefits:

  • Taste. As the coffee beans mature more slowly in the shade, natural sugars increase and enhance the flavor of the coffee.
  • Healthier. Next to tobacco, coffee is sprayed with more chemicals than any other product consumed by humans. Shade grown coffee is most often organically grown, free of harmful chemicals.
  • Promotes healthy environment. Shade grown coffee requires little or no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. The shade trees filter carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and aid in soil moisture retention which minimizes erosion.
  • Provides bird habitat and greater biodiversity. Migrating bird populations have been in rapid decline since the introduction of “sun” coffee and the consequent destruction of rainforest for more coffee plantations. As many as 150 species of birds have been identified on shade coffee farms.
  • Helps sustain rainforests. Shade coffee farms are, for the most part, organic and sustainable.”

Shade-grown coffee can be found in many supermarkets and also online, and is priced just a little higher than regular coffee.

If you’re a decaf java drinker, you may be surprised to learn that all decaffinated coffee is not the same.  According to Care 2 Make a Difference, there are four ways to remove the caffeine, and not all of them are appetizing.  “Two methods of decaffeination use the solvents methylene chloride and ethyl acetate. These are the two solvents that have been approved for use in the United States by the FDA. Methylene chloride is a carcinogen. Ethyl acetate doesn’t pose any risk to the consumer. ‘Naturally decaffeinated’ is a better way to go.  The first of these two methods is the ‘Swiss water process’ which uses pure water, and the second is use of water and carbon dioxide.”

One more helpful tip is to avoid bleached coffee filters which may contain small amounts of dioxin.  Unbleached filters and re-useable gold filters are readily available.

Source:  EarthEasy

photo by Kanko

Tag(s): Food, Green Living, Hazardous Products / Health Issues, The Great Green Outdoors


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