Friday, July 10, 2009

Why Choose Organic Coffee?

By Jason Findleson

Did you know that coffee is one of the most popular traded commodities in existence? As the world becomes more health conscious and aware of environmental impacts growers may have, organic coffee is fast making up more of the market share.

Coffee has been used for over a thousand years. Ethiopia appears to be one of the first areas to identify the miraculous qualities of coffee. It didn't take long before coffee spread throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Back then the growing methods weren't as well thought out as they are now and the idea of organic ceased to exist (perhaps because crops weren't yet doused with chemicals).

Today people are considered by the environmental and health effect of many twentieth century growing practices. For the health conscious consumer, organic coffee is the only choice. Organic coffee is grown without toxic insecticides and herbicides. The fertilizers used are all natural and consumers don't have to worry about being slowly poisoned.

Companies that want to grow organic coffee must gain certification according to the regulations of the Organic Food Production Act. This Act lays out the guidelines that growers must follow to become certified and it also explains the method by which growers will be tested to ensure they follow these guidelines.

Organic Coffee Fields Must Gain Certification

The field in which certified organic coffee is grown must meet high standards as well. It must be shown to have been free of any contaminants or chemicals for at least three years prior to certification. This protects the consumer from past environmental effects that might influence the safety of current coffee crops.

Because of the sometimes long and expensive transition from traditional growing to organic coffee growing, the prices of organic coffee are higher. This isn't much of a concern for most consumers that are after the healthy benefits of naturally grown coffee. Already as more farmers make the transition prices are becoming lower.

Since organic coffee is grown without the aid of commercial fertilizers it is important to protect the nutrients in the soil. To do this many farmers plant tall trees near organic coffee crops to protect the fragile nutrients in the topsoil form the damaging effects of direct sunlight.

All of this work is well worth it for the serious coffee drinker. It provides a healthier, more eco-friendly way to grow our favorite beverage.

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