54% of Americans drink an average of 3 cups of coffee a day, spending $40 billion a year. It’s clearly the #1 food we consume, but it’s also the most pesticide ridden, so it can have a profound effect on our health and the environment. So, let’s be smart about it and save ourselves and the planet we depend on for our very breath.
Buy Organic Coffee
Buy organic coffee whenever possible. Don’t assume that that your coffee is organic. Always ask the barista and check the labels. Some coffee shops only have 1 brand of organic coffee. BTW, Expensive coffees don’t mean it’s organic or cleaner. You have to ask for organic coffee at your favorite stores or better yet, buy one at the stores with all the labels and information laid out. They are many choices these days.
Pesticides that were banned in the US and Europe are sold to Brazil and other countries that are dominant coffee producers, which means we are consuming pesticides that are illegal in the US. Brazilian consumption of pesticides reached around 496,000 tons of active ingredients in 2013.
Remember that 99% of the pesticides sprayed anywhere goes straight into the air, water, and soil, and straight into us. So we are all affected by it. So, buy organic whenever possible. This is our way of exercising consumer power and taking back our health and planet.
Choose Fair trade & Other Certificates
While organic coffee is generally grown in the shade from other trees and plants, many conventional coffee growers cut down rainforests, creating full-sun coffee plantations throughout South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. Vietnam, #2 producer of coffee in the world are clear-cutting the forest and growing coffee without shade. When compared to shade-grown, coffee grown without the protection of shade generally requires increased use of pesticides.
Paying attention to the labels and certifications on your coffee can help you to avoid supporting farms and countries which are contributing to deforestation. Also, coffee grown in shades have greater flavor. So, it’s a win win.
In addition to looking for organic beans, look for labels such as “certified by Rainforest Alliance,” or, even better, “certified by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.” They are easy to find these days and our health and environment is worth it.
“Fair-trade” is also a beneficial certification to help ensure the farmers will get fair prices for their beans.
As coffee consumers, we hold the power to prevent deforestation, pollution of air, soil, and water, unfair trade practices for farmers and workers, protect mother earth, and so much more. When we choose our health, we choose life and all that is good about it. And it’s so easy really. I’ll have a cup of Joe on that!
Some of the Pesticides used on Coffee:
Glyphosate – Sold as Roundup (created and manufactured by Monsanto, a U.S. company that manufactured Agent Orange). They also use GMO modified strains of plants that can tolerate high doses of the pesticide. It accounts for about 90 percent of the soybeans and 70 percent of the corn and cotton grown in the United States. Glyphosate is sprayed on more than 200 crops across 4 million acres in California, including 1.5 million acres of almonds. Research has also shown that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it interferes with the proper functioning and production of hormones and allegedly could cause cancer, among others.
Aldicarb – Sold as the active ingredient in the pesticide Temik, aldicarb is one of the most widely used pesticides internationally, and is also one of the most toxic (manufactured by U.S. Bayer CropScience. In South Africa, Burglars used Temik, to poison dogs. In the summer of 1985 aldicarb was responsible for the largest case of pesticide food poisoning in North America.
Carbofuran – Sold as Furidan, carbofuran is banned in Canada and the EU. This one is another of the most toxic chemicals to humans and a probable reproduction/development intoxicant (manufactured by the U.S. FMC Corporation). Carbofuran has been used by rancher in Kenya to kill lions.
Fenpropathrin – Sold as Danitol and manufactured by Valent Canada including peaches, other stone fruits, apples, pears, grapes, blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries and peanuts. (It’s used in the U.S. on grapes.) Fenpropathrin was found to be a neurotoxin and possible environmental risk factor for Parkinson’s Disease.
Terbufos – A pesticide banned in the EU, it was found in an analysis of 49,955 people that lifetime exposure-days of terbufos was positively associated with all cancers.
The data is abundant, well-documented, and endless. The groundwater, crops, air, and people’s health are being devastated, as thousands of people are taking legal action due to irreversible diseases.
We can make a difference on our health and the environment AND enjoy great coffee with a peace of mind.