At first, the idea of organic coffee and tea may sound like it is just a healthier alternative, yet the implications of choosing organic coffee and tea are far reaching, extending beyond your own physical well being. First, it may be best to describe what organic coffee is and how it is grown.
For years farmers have been encouraged to grow coffee and tea on
fields that were exposed to full sun. This was taught to farmers
as a way to increase revenue by producing more crops on a faster
time scale. However, the consequences of growing coffee under these
conditions were never taken into consideration. When coffee is grown
under full sun conditions, the entire ecosystem is thrown off balance.
To begin with, the trees are cut down and destroyed. This makes
the farm a virtual waste without the means necessary to repair itself
and sustain growth. Since many countries that harvest or are home
to coffee farms are also in areas where there are lush rainforests,
jungles, and other forms of exotic life, removing and destroying
their natural habitat is a dangerous thing to do. Not only does
it upset the delicate balance of nature, but also its effects are
felt for many generations to come.
If destroying the natural habitat of many of the world’s
most precious animals and resources isn't enough, it gets worse.
Without the trees, animal life, and natural organisms that help
reduce the amount of pests and predatory animals, the use of insecticides
and pesticides used on full sun coffee farms increases. Since the
early 1950’s pesticides and insecticides have been used frequently,
yet their effects on human health, animal life, and the environment
cannot go unnoticed. They are linked with cancer causing agents
and the farm workers who use these chemicals report many health
conditions directly caused by these carcinogens. Additionally, these
toxic chemicals remain in the soil, pollute and contaminate the
water, and cause devastation that cannot be repaired.
Organically grown coffee is harvested on farms that implement “shade
tree” techniques. This method of growing coffee is time tested
and produces a higher quality of coffee bean without the use of
chemical pesticides and insecticides. Trees provide the natural
habitat for many indigenous birds that naturally feed upon the insects
and pests common to coffee farms. The farmers in turn are not exposed
to dangerous toxic chemicals, and the earth and eco-system remains
lush, in tact, and well nourished. The soil is not easily targeted
for erosion and the earth is well benefited.
There is another aspect of choosing organic coffee and teas that
should be considered as well, and that is the issue of Fair Trade.
Fair Trade makes certain that the workers and farmers who harvested
the coffee and tea were paid decent and fair wages. Commercially
grown or sun grown coffee and teas have had a negative impact on
the livelihoods of the indigenous people who grow their coffee in
organic methods. Often, the effects of the money-making industry
would drive the local farmers into poverty. Purchasing organically
grown coffee and teas from companies with a commitment to Fair Trade
ensures that not only are the coffee, environment, and farm thriving,
but that the farmer’s family and community is prospering as