Why I Drink Organic Coffee

by Chrystal Johnson on September 16, 2010

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Most people have heard of the “dirty dozen” (the 12 fruits and vegetables you should always buy organic because they have the heaviest pesticide load): Peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes (imported), spinach, lettuce and potatoes.

One thing many people don’t think about is whether the cup of coffee they drink every morning carries a heavy pesticide load or not. Until recently, I didn’t. That is until I learned a few facts about how and where most coffee is grown.

Coffee typically isn’t grown in the States—most countries that do grow coffee don’t regulate the use of chemicals and pesticides. While some of these harmful chemicals are banned or regulated in the States and Europe, they’re legal in many countries that produce large coffee crops.

That’s why coffee is the most chemically treated agricultural product on the planet. So, if you aren’t drinking organic coffee, you’re likely exposing yourself to a dose of pesticides with every cup. And the workers tending to the crops are exposed to high levels of these toxic chemicals every day.

The use of these chemicals affects more than just you and the farmers though. The most common chemicals used in coffee production are synthetic petroleum-based fertilizers that slowly destroy the soil’s fertility and seep into local water supplies. That’s not good for the environment or the people of these countries.

Additionally, the production of coffee is causing rapid deforestation. That’s because coffee grows naturally under the shade of the rainforest—not in direct sunlight. The ingenious coffee industry has developed sun-resistant coffee tree hybrids that now comprise about 70% of the world’s coffee production. As a result rainforest is being cleared at alarming rates to make room for the new, sun resistant coffee trees. Yikes.

So, my recommendation is to look for the USDA Organic label (which means the product is at least 95% organic unless the packaging says otherwise) or other organic certifications to ensure you’re not buying coffee that has been grown or processed with the use of harmful chemicals.

Even better, purchase coffee with Fair Trade Certified and Rainforest Alliance labels to support farmers who are paid fairly and treated well. And, look for shade-grown varieties so you know the coffee is being grown under the canopy of the rainforest, leaving those ancient trees intact, along with the wildlife that call them home.

While it may be difficult for many of us to find organic, sustainably grown coffee at major grocery stores, with a quick search, I was able to find multiple options on Amazon.com, including:

So it’s easy to make this simple change for your health and the environment. Do your part and switch to organic, sustainably-grown coffee.

About Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal, publisher of Happy Mothering, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former marketing manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life. She enjoys sharing those discoveries with anyone who's willing to listen.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren September 20, 2010 at 9:47 am

Finding organic coffees can be tough – though buying from local roasters (depending on where you are located) is a great way to go organic and help the local community!

Timothy’s offers a great Fair Trade Organic Nicaraguan Coffee: http://bit.ly/dxBsUH

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2 Chrystal
Twitter: HappyMothering
September 21, 2010 at 10:15 pm

I’m not sure if we have any local roasters up here, but I do love buying local when it’s possible. Thanks for the recommendation!

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3 coffee drinker August 5, 2012 at 10:31 am

I don’t worry about drinking organic coffee – the coffee bean comes from the inside of a coffee cherry – it’s like eating cherry seeds, not the outer layer exposed to the chemicals. Also, the lighter the roast, the more nutrients are left in the bean. The main reason to buy certified fair trade coffee is to support the farmers who are paid fairly and treated well as stated in the article. Trader Joe’s franchises offer a large variety of both organic and certified fair trade and rainforest alliance coffees which you can grind at the store. For more coffee facts – google ‘how does coffee grow’!

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4 Chrystal August 5, 2012 at 10:35 am

So, you don’t think pesticides penetrate the whole plant? Somehow I don’t buy that.

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5 Kevin J Railsback November 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I try to buy as much organic as I possibly can. I’ve had a hard time getting my wife to understand but I think I finally have her convinced that better eating today means less medical issues tomorrow.
That’s the only way she can justify to herself the extra cost of organic over non organic.
Kevin J Railsback recently posted..Liftoff: Filming A Dragonflies First Flight of the Day

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