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Organic Certified Coffees
Healthy organic coffee is grown without pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers. Drink organic coffee and avoid the more-than-100 impurities that can be found in a cup of regular coffee. Look for organic certified coffees when you shop or order online. Organic certified coffees have a USDA, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance seal on the bag. USDA certified coffee is the gold standard. But, many small organic coffee growers cannot afford the price of USDA organic coffee certification so they cannot bring organic certified coffees to market and often sell locally at the same price that regular coffee brings. Here is where organizations like UTZ come into the picture. They require the same high standards for organic certified coffees but they also help growers find a market for their high quality organic coffee.
According to the USDA, the following applies to USDA organic coffee as well as to all organic food production.
“… 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…”
Organic certified coffees with the USDA seal are the gold standard to which all other organic certified coffees are compared.
A UTZ grower learns to do the following and then continues to do what is needed.
To reduce and prevent soil erosion, keep records of fertilizer and chemical use and use these products responsibly, follow good farming practices including integrated pest management, avoid deforestation, protect water sources, native and endangered species, use native fauna for shade grown coffee, train workers properly in their own language, implement and follow through on health and safety requirements, teach and require good hygiene, trace coffee from planting to roaster and carry out internal inspections every year.
Rainforest Alliance Certification
The process of getting certified by Rainforest Alliance is similar to getting UTZ Certified. Growers start by achieving partial success and grow into the eventual requirements. Rainforest Alliance requires that coffee growers meet half of the criteria for any given area of concern to start with and meet eighty percent of requirements overall. These criteria include ecosystem preservation, safety of wild animals, watershed conservation, fair hiring and labor practices, appropriate safety measures for workers, and strict adherence to agrochemical use standards. An additional feature of this program is the prohibition of genetically modified crops.