According to the National Coffee Association, coffee consumption is at an all time high since 2012, and I absolutely understand why. It's delicious, gives you a "boost" whenever you need it, and it's a natural source of caffeine (compared to all of the artificial energy drinks out there). Not only is statistic true in America, but it's one of the most prevalent beverages in the world, and the demand is only increasing.
With an increase in demand comes critical questions that we need to ask ourselves as consumers. Whenever an item becomes of "high demand" people will try to capitalize on the opportunity as fast as possible, with the end result of profit justifying any means of getting there. What does this increase in demand mean for coffee farmers, consumers & our planet? What can we do to consume our coffee responsibly?
Let us give you a little rundown: there are two ways you can grow coffee, either in the sun or in the shade. Coffee was discovered as a shade-grown crop, naturally grown under the canopy of trees in rainforests, although sun-grown coffee was introduced in the 70s as a way to triple the yield of coffee and increase profits. Tripling the amount of coffee sounds really nice, until you realize the detrimentaleaffects it has on our planet & surrounding eco-systems.
Below is our list of 3 reasons why your sun-grown coffee is destroying the planet, and why you might want to spend a few more minutes in the coffee aisle than normal.
1. When you buy sun-grown coffee, you're indirectly funding climate change.
Similar to animal agriculture, tons of forested land in Africa, South & Central America & Southeast Asia get destroyed to provide for the increase in coffee demand.
Since the growth in demand of coffee & competition across different countries, we lose over 200,000 acres of rainforest a day. That's roughly 13 square miles of rainforest an hour, all for human consumption.
Deforestation directly contributes to climate change, since there are no trees to convert any CO2 into Oxygen, allowing for heat to trap within the Earth's atmosphere.
2. Sun-grown coffee is reliant on pesticides.
When trees are cut down for rapid coffee production, farmers are more reliant on pesticides. In a traditional, shade-grown environment, a diverse array of trees would attract a variety of bird species. These native birds reduce the need for any pesticides, since they serve as a predator of any coffee pests. The array of trees & plants in a shade-grown environment also attract pollinators, such as bees, and allow for a thriving, diverse ecosystem.
Pesticides pose risks for our planet, farmers & consumers. Run-off is absorbed into the soil and into our waterways and ingested into our body. Not only does infected water tarnish our health, but it creates dangerous algae blooms which kill any food source typically found in any waterways. Pesticides also disrupt natural ecosystems, killing any animals & bugs in the area that are necessary for nature to thrive.
Fun Fact: If just half of North America's approximately 15 million college students switched to organic, shade-grown coffee, they would prevent 3,885 tons of chemical fertilizers and 660 tons of highly toxic pesticides from entering the environment.
3. It kills wildlife & threatens certain animal species.
When we remove any forested land for human consumption, we threaten tons of animal species native to those lands.
Did you know that 80% of the worlds documented species lives in tropical rainforests? Leopards, elephants, chimpanzees, orangutan & tigers are all big name species that are largely susceptible to poachers when forests are cut down, and normally can't survive with what they're left with when all is said and done.
Shade-grown coffee allows for an abundance of animal species to live & thrive, reduces the rate & demand for deforestation, allows natural ecosystems to thrive and reduces pollution & climate change.
When your shopping for coffee or exploring coffee shops, look for "specialty coffee" products that are shade grown & organic. Check for certification labels on the bag you want to buy, such as: Shade Grown, Certified Organic, Rainforest Alliance, or Bird Friendly. A lot of times, bird-friendlyis the most difficult to find, yet the most stringent with the regulations. Check out the Birds & Beans brand!
Not only is the quality of the coffee better & more natural, but your body and your planet will thank you for it!
These simple, mindful switches are what will change the world.
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