We’ve all been there. You’re standing in the produce section, looking at strawberries and trying to decide whether you should spring for the organic ones. Is it worth the extra couple dollars? What exactly does “organic” mean, anyway? And what makes organic products better?
We are becoming increasingly aware of the threat that pesticides and herbicides pose to our planet and our health, but that doesn’t mean we’re not still a little confused about when we need to prioritize buying organic. What’s wrong with non-organic coffee, for example?
At Wildcrafter, we’re deeply passionate about crafting high-quality products that are sustainable and ecologically responsible. That’s why we’re committed to using 100% organic ingredients, from the Arabica coffee beans to the herbs we infuse with them. We also believe in the importance of education — when we know better, we do better. With that in mind, here’s some information that will help you understand why organic matters, even when it comes to your coffee.
When we talk about food being organic, we’re referring to the way it’s grown and processed by farmers. All types of agricultural products can be organic, including vegetables, fruit, and grains as well as meat and dairy.
The opposite of organic farming is conventional farming, which involves the use of chemicals to control pests and weeds, provide crops with nutrition, and prevent illness in livestock. These chemicals include synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
But organic farming is about much more than just avoiding chemicals. Unlike conventional farms, organic farms focus on a set of practices that are geared toward balance. Rather than relying on chemicals to keep their plants and animals healthy, organic farmers employ holistic practices like rotating crops and fertilizing with animal manure. These techniques date back thousands of years, and provide a much more sustainable means of producing food.
With its emphasis on sustainability, organic farming is rooted in conservation. Rather than spraying their crops into submission with chemicals, organic farmers work with nature to produce plants that are healthy for consumers and the environment.
While conventional agriculture has been shown to negatively impact the planet by increasing soil erosion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, organic farming does the opposite. Positive environmental effects of organic farming include:
Some of the chemicals that conventional agriculture relies on have been shown to be particularly harmful to some of the earth’s most important creatures: bees. As pollinators, bees play an essential role in food production, so no bees equals no food. Recognizing the harm pesticides have done to the bee population, the Environmental Protection Agency recently banned 12 bee-killing chemicals.
This is just one example of the many ways conventional farming is causing serious damage to our planet. Organic farmers strive to mitigate that damage by working with the earth instead of against her.
Did you know that the most widely used herbicide in the world has been classified as a “possible human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization? Or that an insecticide called chlorpyrifos has been linked to developmental delays in infants? Or that pesticide residue may be playing a role in the troubling sperm count decline affecting men in the United States and other parts of the world?
As evidence continues to mount that the chemicals used in conventional farming may be seriously affecting our health, it becomes more and more clear that buying organic when possible is the best way to protect yourself and your family from exposure to them.
Knowing that many of us aren’t in an economic position to buy organic 100% of the time, the Environmental Working Group compiles an annual list, known as the Dirty Dozen, of the most heavily-sprayed fruits and vegetables. If you’re only able to buy some organic produce, these 12 items should be your priority. Here’s the 2019 Dirty Dozen list:
When you know which foods are most likely to contain a lot of pesticide residue, you’ll be less confused about which organic produce to spring for next time you’re at the grocery store.
Okay, so you may have noticed that coffee isn’t on the Dirty Dozen list. Does that mean it’s okay to buy conventional coffee? Not exactly. Coffee is actually one of the most heavily chemically-treated crops in the world. This means that every time you drink a cup of conventional coffee, you’re also slurping down synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. Yum… Not!
And these chemicals aren’t just bad for you as the consumer — they also harm the health of the farmers who come into contact with them, as well as the people living in the communities that surround conventional coffee farms.
Organic coffee, on the other hand, is grown using only natural fertilizers like coffee pulp and compost. No chemicals to grow the coffee means no chemicals in your cuppa, and a cleaner and greener environment for the farmers and their families. And organic coffee beans are higher in antioxidants than conventional ones. They taste great, too!
Organic coffee is also a better choice on a larger ecological scale. Have you ever been browsing coffee beans and noticed that some were labelled as “shade grown”? You must’ve been looking at organic coffee. (Good choice!) Coffee naturally prefers shade, but growing coffee in the forest requires a lot of effort and money. As a result, many conventional coffee beans are actually hybrids that have been created to grow in full sun.
Rather than putting in the work to farm coffee in the forest, conventional coffee growers are clearing trees, turning the forests into open fields where they can grow their sun-loving hybrid beans. As you can imagine, the effects of this clear-cutting are often devastating. Flora and fauna are displaced, soil erodes, and chemicals pollute the air and water.
Most organic coffee farmers grow their beans in the shade, leaving the forests intact. So not only do they avoid contaminating the area with chemicals, they’re allowing it to flourish.
It can be scary to think about all the ways chemicals can hurt us and the planet, but knowledge is power. Now that you know the perks of organic coffee, you’ll get even more enjoyment out of your Wildcrafter blend.