Small scale farmers protect the forests, use specialty-grade Arabica Beans, and grow beans naturally in high altitude shaded areas without the use of pesticides.
1. Reduced exposure to pesticides. Pesticide use is much greater on sun plantations, where the natural pest control provided by native birds and insects is missing. Toxic chemicals and fertilizers not only threaten the farmers who work with them, but also run off into local water sources, killing off valuable microbes in the soil, and even leaving chemical residues in the harvested beans.
2. Save the forests. Deforestation goes hand-in-hand with sun-grown coffee. As of 2011, 2.5 million acres of forest in Central America alone have been clear cut to make way for sun plantations. Without canopy cover, soil is much more vulnerable to erosion, which in turn facilitates run-off of pesticides and fertilizers. Deforestation is also a major contributor to global warming, accounting for about 1/5th of global greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Preserve biodiversity. Biodiversity is a direct victim of sun plantations, from the soil to the skies. As with any mono culture crop, the destruction of plant and animal diversity that occurs on sun plantations destabilizes natural food webs. The loss of a complex layer of humus kills off soil microbes and nitrogen-fixing organisms, resulting in depleted, nutrient-poor soil. Above ground, clear cutting displaces millions of plant and animal species native to traditional coffee-growing ecosystems. Compared to shaded farms, for example, an estimated 95 percent fewer birds are found on sun plantations.
4. Save the soil and the climate. Increasingly scientists warn that stripping soil of its natural ability to store carbon makes any form of industrial agriculture, including coffee sun plantations, a big contributor to global warming. Alternatively, by protecting the soil’s natural ability to sequester carbon, we can see reversal of global warming.
5. Support small farmers: Corporate agribusiness is the primary beneficiary of sun plantations. Small farmers, in contrast, are far less likely to support the clear cutting, toxic chemical usage and overall environmental destructiveness of sun growing. Supporting industrial coffee production means giving the go-ahead to sun farming, as well as edging out the small farmers who have a long term vested interest in the health of their land.
6. Drink better-tasting coffee: Taste is perhaps the casualty of sun growing that most directly affects consumers. Because coffee fruits ripen faster in the sun, they have less time to develop the positive qualities looked for by coffee connoisseurs. One study found that shade-grown beans are larger, less bitter (owing to greater carbohydrate accumulation), and more complex in flavor compared to their sun-grown counterparts.
7. Fair Trade Certified : With fair trade 25 million small coffee farmers are empowered to make a sustainable living, support their communities, preserve their culture, and help slow the devastation of rain forest. Powerful corporations, corrupt governments, with unfair trade practices, continue to exploit impoverished communities, devastate the environment, make extreme profits, with these large sun coffee plantations.
Whether your priority is to purchase ethically grown and processed coffee, or to just brew a cup with full-bodied flavor, opting to avoid sun-grown coffee is the best choice. Try Fair Trade organically grown high altitude shade grown coffee and help protect the small farmer and global deforestation.