In the not so distant past, organically grown produce was foreign to the mainstream supermarket. These days organically grown foods are an easy choice in most every supermarket and yet many people are still not clear on what organic really means.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA) “Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations."
The Organic Trade Association says in order for coffee to be labeled organic it must meet the USDA standards which include, “…farming without synthetic pesticides or other prohibited substances for three years and a sustainable crop rotation plan to prevent erosion, the depletion of soil nutrients, and control for pests.” If our goal is a greener earth that lasts far into the future, this is a process that really needs to become our normal way of production.
Organics may be even more important to the decaffeinated coffee drinker. It turns out that many coffees are decaffeinated using chemicals such as methylene chloride. The Organic Trade Association says, “Organic coffee, however, must be decaffeinated using a certified organic decaffeination process to maintain the organic integrity of the beans. One of the most popular organic decaffeination processes is the SWISS WATER® process, using only water to remove caffeine.”
There are many certifications given to coffee, all of which have their purpose and organic is just one of them. While many of the more conscious brands of coffee will overlap in their efforts of being socially responsible including any combination of certifications like Fair Trade, Direct Trade, Rain Forest Alliance, or Bird Friendly along with organic, for some brands you may have to pick your battle. If you are fortunate enough to find Fair Trade or Direct Trade coffee that is also organic, go for it.
The Groovy Mind is a great site to find information and everything you need when it comes to Fair Trade organic Coffee as well as many other items.
To learn more about these important certifications, read on.
USDA organic Certification
Sweet Unity Farms (Direct Trade)
McDonald’s McCafe’s Go Green (Rainforest Alliance)
Thanks-giving Coffee Companies (Shade-Grown/Fair Trade)