In our grocery stores everything has a label these days, certified organic, organic or another eco-label that consumers may not be familiar with. Organic labels were all the rage in produce aisles, where our cucumbers and salads were certified organic or marked as local produce. These labels have now moved into other aisles, such as coffee and disposable paper filter aisle.
All I want is my morning coffee, so that I can function like a normal human being and not yell at everyone around me. I do enjoy the idea of helping to save the environment with my morning cup of joe. At first I had no idea what all these eco-labels stood for or how I could get my hands on eco-friendly, green coffee that can soothe my caffeine cravings.
Here are basics of eco-labels found on coffee products and important meanings behind them;
Fair Trade Certified
To me, this was by far the most important eco-label on environmentally conscious coffee products. I support good causes, but nothing is more important than fairly supporting hard working men and women who grow produce we consume.
The Fair Trade Certified concentrates on small-scale farms and workers, eliminating child labor and paying above market prices for produce. Farmers benefit from access to credit and are able to use sustainable farming methods. Buyers involved in the fair trade program have to pay up to 60% in advance for products, with added premiums being used for healthcare and educational projects.
transfairusa.org is a website that offers education on Fair Trade products, need for fair farming as well as coffee products that can be purchased to support farmers worldwide.
Shade-Grown and Bird Friendly
Shade grown and bird friendly labels are similar, as they both refer to coffee that is grown under a tree canopy. Shade Grown coffee meets minimum shade-coverage requirements, while Bird Friendly goes through a rigorous certification process.
Bird Friendly also refers to coffee beans that are grown in places that provide good bird habitats. Plantations that follow Bird Friendly criteria must maintain tree canopies, provide different species of plants and preserve natural habitats for birds.
This eco-label is a good reminder that we share Mother Earth with other creatures, and just because we enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning it does not have to mean destroying a bird’s home to do so.
Rainforest Alliance eco-label is for coffee products that are grown with water and soil conservation, and limited use of agrochemicals. Criteria requires farmers to use integrated pest and disease management practices and wildlife-habitat conservation measures. Farmers involved in the Rainforest Alliance also get paid salaries and benefits.
Visit www.rainforest-alliance.org to locate Rainforest Alliance certified coffee.
Organic and USDA Certified Organic
Organic is a label common in our grocery stores and something we are most familiar with. The main difference between a plain Organic and USDA certified organic eco-labels is that United States Department of Agriculture labels organic products based on their certification criteria.
To be considered Organic or Certified Organic coffee, farmers growing the product must encourage use of renewable resources, and practice water and soil conservation. Coffee is grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and there is no use of genetic engineering.
Who knew that purchasing coffee can be so complicated? While it may take time to research and educate yourself about eco-labels and their meanings, you will be better off knowing the difference a coffee purchase can make.
To me, supporting small farmers worldwide is important as they are the ones growing and maintaining coffee crops. In addition to fairly compensating a farmer’s hard work, it is important to look for certified organic labels for coffee that is grown without harmful chemicals.
Eco-Label for Fair Trade Certified
Eco-Label for Bird Friendly
Eco-Label for Rainforest Alliance
Eco-Label for USDA Certified Organic