Ethical Coffee and Global Warming
Coffee is considered the most heavily traded commodity in the world next to oil. With this information in mind, it’s important for us to know that even the most basic choices you make each day – such as ordering a cup of coffee – can still mount up to make an immense difference. Your choice of coffee can help change the face of communities with ethical coffee purchases that support environmental conservation.
In 1998, Conservation International joined forces with Starbucks in Chiapas to improve the livelihoods of farmers while taking care of one of Mexico’s superior forests as their goal. The great news here is that there are over a million coffee farmers from four different continents who are now benefiting from this program. With all these efforts made by Conservation International and Starbucks, this can affect billions of people around the world.
Many traditional farmers in Chiapas are beginning to follow the guidelines developed by Starbucks and Conservation International in responsible growing of their coffee farms. The guidelines developed, called C.A.F.E. Practices (Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices) created a product that profits not only coffee drinkers, but also farmers and the environment. The program has provided an opportunity for both CI and Starbucks to put something through its paces that there is a positive and lasting impact with ethical sourcing of coffee. Ausencio Aguilar and other Chiapas farmers have made an insightful choice to grow their coffee with nature. Aguilar believes that “Nature gives us everything for free, if we know how to treat her right.” Shade-grown coffee seekers find that by treating nature right, they are also making certain of their own livelihoods.
Aguilar and the rest of the coffee farmers in Chiapas grow their coffee beans the old-fashioned and time-honored way: they grow coffee in the shade of native trees. Coffees grow well in mixed toropical forest settings and in a natural process. This was the norm in the past until the global demand for coffee increasingly grew over the 20th century. As the demand for coffee grew, many farmers have succumbed to a more contemporary method of growing and producing coffee in the sun. The latter method of cultivating coffee involves the predominant wisdom of clearing out forested slopes so more coffee plants can be grown.
The process of growing coffee in the sun (a method most farmers apply these days) is indeed beneficial to both farmers and coffee manufacturers. The downside to this is that the process lays down resources and bigger intervention, especially on the farmers’ part. Coffees that are grown in the sun require more water and chemical pesticides/insecticides which can greatly endanger the well-being of both wildlife and humans. Furthermore, it disintegrates the environment at the same time. Farmers like Aguilar oppose this current process of growing coffee and believes that looking after nature is the greatest way to care for ourselves.
When you grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee on your coffee break, make sure that you choose coffee that’s organic and shade-grown. Look for labels that support ethically sourced coffees. Little things such as this can definitely make a great contribution not only for generations to come but for the environment as well.
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