Coffee, How I Love Thee. . .but dost thou need to be organic?


So many coffees to sample. So little time. Love love love! (insert crazy face)

Ever since the American Revolution — when tea and powdered wigs were officially deemed un-American — coffee has been our hot beverage of choice (we also consumed insane amounts of whiskey and rum during our early years, but that’s for another time, as is the health effects of huge vats of coffee).

Today Americans consume about 400 million cups o’ java per day — over 4 billion dollars worth of imported coffee beans a year – and I’m afraid I’m responsible for more than my share of these staggering numbers. We actually have a coffee budget in our home, which I blatantly disregard whenever I encounter a beautiful coffee shop, and my students have been known to raise their hands and ask me to slow down if I’m in caffeine-induced super-fast-lecture mode. (Hmmm . . . is this bad?) 

I love my morning (and who am I kidding – late morning, early afternoon) cup of coffee, but I haven’t always paid attention to whether or not I’m buying organic coffee.  It’s not on the Dirty Dozen list of organic foods, and therefore easy to overlook for many of us, but after doing a bit more research into the topic — and finding out that coffee is one of the most chemically treated crops in the world — I’m planning to cut back to one cup a day and make sure I’m drinking an organic brew.  

Most of our coffee today comes from Latin America.  Farmers would like to grow coffee organically, which is cheaper and better for the environment and people’s health. However, because coffee is such a massive market, if we’re not willing to pay a bit more for our beans, they’re going to continue to produce most coffee laden with pesticides and chemicals – to the tune of 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers per acre (yes, you read that correctly!).  A high consumption of pesticides has been linked to various cancers, miscarriages, and all kinds of other nasty health problems, so I think we’re all in agreement that we’d like to avoid them when possible.

But, wait – isn’t your favorite coffee at the ubiquitous Starbucks “Fair Trade Certified”?? This does not necessarily mean farmers are using organic growing methods, but it does ensure they were treated fairly and paid well, which is also important. Unfortunately, only 1.6% of the coffee Starbucks purchased in 2012 was organic. What the what, SB?  Your best bet is to only and always purchase coffee labeled “Fair Trade Certified” and “Organic.” 

Here’s to a beautiful, pesticide-free, fairly-traded day, my friends! 🙂



One response »

  1. Pingback: Coffee, How I Love Thee. . .but dost thou need to be organic? | Vegan Made Easy

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