Environmental Impact of Sun Cultivated Coffee
Traditional coffee farms grow coffee in the shade. The plants are interspersed under a forest canopy, typically in a cloudy mountain habitat. There is no need for synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides or fungicides in such a sustainable habitat. The result is organic shade grown coffee whether it is certified or not. But, the increased demand for coffee has resulted in the production of sun cultivated coffee. New strains have been developed that are more sun tolerant. Coffee plants are spaced very close together to increase production. But, the bunching of a lot of coffee plants together increases the incidence of insect and fungal infestations like coffee leaf rust. The environmental impact of sun cultivated coffee therefore includes deforestation and the environmental impact of sun cultivated coffee includes pollution of the soil and water table with harmful chemicals. You can drink healthy organic coffee and help the world avoid the environmental impact of sun cultivated coffee or go ahead and ignore the situation. If you want to do the right thing, what is the next step?
The Power of the Consumer
If no one buys sun cultivated coffee they will quit producing it. And if people insist on certified organic coffee they will produce more and thereby reduce the environmental impact of sun cultivated coffee. What are the certifications to look for? Look for the USDA, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance seals when you buy coffee.
When coffee is certified organic by the USDA we know that sustainable agricultural practices were used and that the product is in all likelihood not sun cultivated. It is free of many of the pesticide, herbicide, and synthetic fertilizer residues that can be found coffee grown in crowded fields in direct sun.