Organic, direct trade, fair trade…these labels are more prominent as transparency of the food industry increases. However, did you know that “USDA Organic” does not mean that the product is 100% organic? Similarly, some organic coffee is not labeled as such.
What is Organic Coffee?
Coffee must be at least 95% organic to bear the USDA organic seal. “Organic” means that the farmers grow and harvest beans without use of the pesticides or chemicals which USDA deems harmful to the environment and crops. Did you know that USDA compiled a list of chemicals considered “safe” for use; so organic goods are not chemical-free?
USDA’s seal does not adorn all organically-grown coffee bags. Farmers may practice organic coffee growth without ever applying for the certification. For many farmers, the cost and process required to certify their crop as “organic” outweighs the benefit of having the accreditation.
Is Organic Coffee Better Than Non-Organic Coffee?
The answer to which is better is rather subjective, and hinges on one’s focus (e.g. quality, ethics, economics). As sustainability and environmental factors carry more weight in the agriculture industry, people increasingly turn their attention to organic farming practices. It can be very attractive to see well-designed bag flashing seals of organicity and fair trade, but as with most things in this world, those accreditations are neither the most fair nor the most accurate. The monetary dedication required to be officially recognized discourages many farmers from applying for accreditation. Transparency about the crops that we ingest is reassuring (we sure appreciate it); however, it also creates more grounds on which to divide the coffee-drinking community. Where do you stand?
We invite you to do some research of your own and see where you stand in this coffee conversation. Never hesitate to share your knowledge or opinions at firstname.lastname@example.org.