Shade-grown coffee is--you may have guessed it--grown in shady conditions. That means acres of trees didn't need to be chopped down in order to allow farmers to produce higher yields (and birds still have a home).
Some argue that shade-grown coffee, which is the traditional growing method, tastes better than beans produced from tree-free farms.
Now, University of Michigan researchers say shade-grown coffee provides another environmental benefit--acting as a buffer against climate change.
According to a press release, shade-grown farms boost biodiversity (the birds again), and require far less synthetic fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides than sun-coffee plantations.
UM scientists say shade growing also shields coffee plants during extreme weather events, such as droughts and severe storms.
The article says that the scientists are warning Latin American farmers of the risks tied to "coffee-intensification programs" (using techniques such as thinning tree canopies and using high-yield coffee strains that grow best in direct sunlight). They are urging them to return to traditional shade-grown methods.
Ivette Perfecto of the UM School of Natural Resources and Environment is quoted: "Shaded coffee is ideal because it will buffer the system from climate change while protecting biodiversity."
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