Shade Grown Coffee

August 3, 2007

Here’s something I read the other day:

Unlike shade-grown coffee, most of the $4 billion worth of coffee imported by the United States each year is grown under conditions that severely damage the environment and jeopardize wildlife, especially migratory birds. By contrast, organic, shade-grown coffee plantations are environmentally supportive and provide critical habitat for as many as 200 species of birds, as well as dozens of species of insects, amphibians, and plants.

The piece went on to talk about the relative benefits to the earth of drinking shade-grown coffee:

Organic coffee and shade-grown coffee plantations provide many advantages. For example, shade-grown and organic coffee farms:

    • help maintain soil quality

      • can produce coffee beans for up to 50 years, while sun-grown coffee bushes are good for only 5 to 10 years

        • control erosion

          • facilitate natural pest control, as shade-grown coffee requires little or no chemical pesticides or herbicides

            • provide natural mulch and thus reduce the need for chemical fertilizers

              • provide critical habitat for migratory birds, plus many different species of insects, amphibians, and plants

                I went looking for shade-grown coffee at the grocery store (dream on!) but no dice. Here’s a link to a list of web sources, though. Downside — it’s expensive (well, what did I expect?) but I’m thinking I can at least work it into my coffee routine as a portion of the total.

                BTW, I found this information (including the above-quoted material) on a wonderful site: www.charityguide.org. There’s an animated button for it in the link list on this site — check it out!

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