Grounds for Labeling
[This article was previously published in the fall issue of The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]
by Linley Dixon, PhD
Senior Scientist at The Cornucopia Institute
Straight, with sugar, milk, or honey. Regardless of how you take it, Americans love their coffee. At an average of two cups a day, the U.S. is only 22nd in terms of world consumption, with Scandinavian countries topping the chart at 2-3 times this amount.
As avid coffee consumers, how should we be sourcing our beans to minimize environmental impact and pesticides and support ecologically diverse farms?
Considering coffee is a tropical crop, our usual recommendation to “know your farmer” is largely unworkable. Instead, we must depend on the many certifications that decorate coffee packages, including organic, fair-trade, Rainforest Alliance, shade-grown, and even certified bird friendly! But with so many labels to choose from, how do we know which is best?
Many harmful chemicals that are banned in the U.S. are still widely used in developing countries on coffee plants. In addition to easing consumer concerns over chemical residues, buying USDA certified organic coffee mitigates exposure of farm workers who might not be trained for pesticide applications or have access to protective wear.
Some of the most common pesticides used on coffee include chlorpyrifos, disulfoton, and methyl parathion, all highly toxic organophosphate insecticides used to control cherry borers and leaf miners, among other insects. Read Full Article »