Volume 4 Issue 2

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Page 37 of 39

Coffee is the most popular beverage in the world a er water, a standing which helps rank it as one of the largest traded commodi es — second only to oil, according to "The Organic Food Shopper's Guide." Organically grown coffee is free of chemical residues, an a ribute that prompts many connoisseurs to claim it has a fuller, richer flavor than conven onally grown coffee. Only a moderate number of coffee drinkers need opt for organically grown beans to make a substan al posi ve impact on the environment and in the lives of organic coffee farmers. Environmental Benefits In an effort to produce less- expensive coffee, conven onal growers clear-cut rain forests, crea ng full-sun coffee planta ons throughout South America, Africa and southeast Asia. In tropical regions, nutrients aren't stored in the soil, but rather sucked up for immediate use by the dense, wide diversity of plant life. With deforesta on, nutrients disappear with the vegeta on. Plan ng a monocrop coffee farm on soil sapped of nutrients necessitates the use of chemical fer lizers to feed the plants. Pes cides are another requirement, because the predators of coffee pests are eliminated along with the forest. Without the canopy's shade, the ground water supply dries up, hardening the soil over me. Deforesta on also adversely effects migratory bird popula ons, which have fewer places to winter in South America. Most organic coffee growers, meanwhile, grow their plants in the shade of the rain forest. The ecosystem provides adequate plant nutri on, and its biodiversity eliminates the need for chemical pes cides and herbicides. Health Benefits The Environmental Protec on Agency warns that 30 percent of insec cides, 60 percent of herbicides and 90 percent of fungicides are carcinogenic, or cancer-causing. Pes cides and other conven onal farming chemicals accumulate in body fat, and can cause damage to the nervous and reproduc ve systems. These chemicals can also disrupt hormone and immune-system func on. Pregnant and nursing women who ingest tradi onally grown coffee pass the chemical residues on to their fetuses or nursing babies. Because babies' bodies have less fat, these chemicals are absorbed more easily by their internal organs. Pes cides and other farming chemicals have been linked with developmental and behavioral abnormali es. Drinking organic coffee eliminates the health risks posed by conven onal coffee. Farmer Benefits Although not all cer fied organic coffee is also fair-trade cer fied, the two o en come hand in glove. Without fair trade prac ces, small organic shade-coffee farmers must compete with the low prices set by the large conven onal planta ons, the Green Living Expert website notes. Organic farmers o en end up receiving less than their produc on costs and are consequently driven off their land, which is then clear-cut for another large planta on. In an effort to maintain the livelihood of organic coffee growers, fair trade coopera ves pay a higher, guaranteed price to farmers within the coopera ves. As of 2008, the coffee market paid 30 to 50 cents per pound, with an extra 15-cents-per-pound premium for organic beans. In contrast, fair- trade growers were paid $1.41 per pound of cer fied organic coffee. Considerations For a coffee to be cer fied organic, its grower must prove that both the beans and the soil are fer lizer-, chemical- and residue- free, which typically takes at least three organic growing seasons to accomplish. Triple-cer fied coffees come from farms that hold Quality Assurance Interna onal's organic cer fica on, are fair trade- cer fied and also hold the Smithsonian Ins tu on's shade-grown cer fica on. Triple cer fied arabica beans are the highest-quality organic beans you can buy. Avoid robusta beans, which are usually grown on full-sun planta ons that damage the environment and cause significant social turmoil in the regions where they're grown. By: Meg Campbell What Are the Benefits of Organic Coffee Consumption? What Are the Benefits of Organic Coffee Consumption? Page 38 | Abby's Magazine -

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