Coffee is the second most highly traded commodity in the world. Let that sink in for a minute. The first, you might have guessed is oil. Huge portions of the earth in Central and South America, Africa and Southern Asia have been converted to the cultivation of coffee. This has had a dramatic and sometimes devastating effect on the land, plants, animals and peoples of these particularly sensitive parts of our planet.
Pesticides and chemical fertilizers: Coffee is the third most intensively chemically treated crop (after tobacco and cotton) in the world. Of greatest concern is that these chemicals are being used in countries that do not have any real regulations. There are at least twelve chemicals routinely used for growing coffee (known as the dirty dozen). These are either banned, highly regulated or under clinical study because of their negative effects on human, plant and animal life. Most familiar of these is DDT that has a disastrous effect on birds in particular. It almost wiped out the American Bald Eagle until it was banned in this country. Other of these chemicals are either outright poisons and toxic to all living things or have been linked to cancer and a wide range of birth defects.
Help the Land: Organic coffee is grown on farms that do not use any pesticides or chemical fertilizers. There are no harmful chemicals on the coffee trees, berries, land or any run off into the ground water.
Help the Plants: The introduction of all of these chemicals has wiped out numerous species of indigenous plant life. Further the clearing of the land to plant the coffee groves has removed huge tracts of rainforests and other ecologically important habitats for this natural fauna.
Help the Animals: Birds, many which migrate from North America to Central and South America, have been particularly hard hit by commercial coffee growing. They are not only killed or cannot reproduce effectively because of the chemicals but they are losing their habitats and food sources. It is reported that an organic coffee grove with indigenous shade trees and cover has 95% more bird and animal life than a chemically treated grove. These chemicals get into the ground water and pollute the streams and rivers making their way throughout the food chain.
Help the Farmers and their Families: One of the most devastating effects is upon the people who work on these chemically treated coffee plantations and live in the area. These chemicals literally become part of their diet, as they are present in the drinking water and the ground. Children are most at risk as they accidentally are poisoned or burned through direct ingestion or exposure to these chemicals. Some chemicals build up in the system and cause liver and other organ dysfunction. Just as serious are the long term effects on the reproductive system and the incidence of mental and physical birth defects.
By simply drinking organic coffee you can help save the earth, animals and peoples of the coffee growing countries without having to sacrifice anything. Organic coffee tastes as good as if not better than any chemical treated coffee. Further as your body is the end of the food chain for these chemicals as well, you will be doing yourself a favor.