It's National Coffee Day, apparently.
If you're buzzing this afternoon, try to start a new coffee habit and choose a coffee that's certified -- organic, Fair Trade, bird friendly or shade-grown. Each label is third-party verified and means something slightly different. A USDA Organic label means that the coffee wasn't grown using pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically modified seeds. Fair Trade certified means that workers were paid a fair wage and not subjected to unhealthy farming practices, like excessive use of toxic pesticides. Bird Friendly and Rainforest Alliance-certified shade grown coffee labels mean that coffee was grown using traditional methods so that rainforest trees on coffee plantations are preserved, rather than clear-cut. (The "bird friendly" part comes in because many of the songbirds that frequent U.S. backyards spend winters in South and Central American rainforests, including shade-grown coffee plantations.)
Choosing any certified roast is a good choice for the environment, compared with typical coffee, which is doused with pesticides and grown on land that has been clear-cut.
The Arbor Day Foundation did the math for The Daily Green, and found that each cup of shade grown coffee preserves two square feet of rain forest. And it may also be a bulwark against global warming.
Global warming is expected to support the proliferation of the coffee berry borer, an African beetle that is widely considered the greatest coffee pest in the world, with particularly devastating effects in the Americas (in Spanish, it is known as barrenador del café or gorgojo del café) according to a recent study by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and published in the scientific journal PLoS One. Coffee grown under a canopy of trees -- as coffee was originally grown, before the advent of pesticides made sun coffee fields possible -- provides habitat for species that eat coffee berry borers. (The summary of the study doesn't say this explicitly, but we might guess that some of those predators are insect-eating birds, though Wikipedia lists only other insects as predators. In addition, the canopy of trees creates a microclimate about 2 degrees cooler than sunny fields, effectively zeroing out the temperature increase expected in the climate.
To find shade grown coffee, see this list of coffee roasters selling certified bird friendly and shade grown coffee online.
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