Buying organic foods has become popular and trendy in the 21st century but, even more importantly, has become necessary to sustain our long term environment. For many families, buying only organic foods and beverages means reading labels and shopping in grocery stores and farmers markets where the best organic produce and other products can be purchased.
If you are an avid coffee drinker, purchasing organic coffee may be right on the top of your list of organic purchases to make on your next grocery shopping list. But, is your coffee really organic? According to food standards for organic certification, there are many ways in which that coffee you are purchasing, labeled as organic, may not actually be organic at all. While there may be some components of your coffee that is organic, odds are the entire process of growing and supplying that coffee to your store is not an organic certified process.
For most organic foods to be certified as organic, the farming soil in which the food is grown must be certified as organic by meeting specific standards. In the realm of organic coffee, the odds are highly likely that your coffee beans were not grown in an environmentally sustainable way, meaning the coffee bean, itself, is not fully organic. Also, because most coffee beans are grown outside of the United States, to be certified organic does not mean the coffee has been grown by a farmer who was paid fair price for his labor.
If you want to really ensure that you are getting the best possible organic results from your coffee beans, look for not only the “organic” labeling but also labeling that indicates the coffee beans are “fair trade” and “shade grown”. By finding coffee beans with these two additional labels, you are getting a more organic form of coffee bean although there is never a way to guarantee a 100 percent certainty of organic. With “fair trade” you are purchasing a coffee bean that has been grown by a farmer who engages in fair pricing and fair trade for labor. By purchasing a coffee bean that is “shade grown”, the product is certified that the coffee bean trees are shaded by other trees which provides for a more organic farming method.
While there is no way to guarantee all foods that you buy labeled as “organic” are truly organic, it is still important to pursue this organic labeling. If you desire a more environmentally friendly way in which to live and consume foods, enjoy your organic coffee but look for these other designations to be sure you are getting the best organic results for your dollars.
Sources: Buying Organic, by Luddene Perry, pp. 224-226.