Question from Chris of Orland Park, IL:
“Should the choice we make in picking a coffee drink daily be greatly influenced by whether or not it is organic?”
OK, the simplest question ever, right? But the answer is not simple. Let me explain: from the point of view of an old hippie activist (me), the answer is a resounding, “YES”. However, not everyone has a hippie activist background, so depending on who you are, the answer is variable.
Organic coffees generally cost more, so a person watching their budget would be greatly influenced by price. But often times the price versus ideology presents an inner conflict for someone who wants to “do the right thing”, but is balancing a budget each month. So we all bring the full impact of our past and present to bare on the way we think about coffee choice.
I prefer to promote certified organic coffees because I believe that oil-based chemical fertilizers don’t belong in our agriculture. Here are the facts on each agricultural chemical:
Fertilizers, based on petrol oil are absorbed by the coffee tree roots rapidly. One would think this is a good thing, but the consequences of chemical fertilizers is a short-lived coffee tree (fifteen years). With organic cultivation, a coffee tree can last for 80 years.
Pesticides are needed for some bugs but they kill the worms and all the beneficial bacteria and insects in the soil. When the rains come, the chemicals wash into the streams and rivers as well as seeping into the groundwater. The poison is spread around to kill more than we can see.
Herbicides are the chemicals used to kill weeds that steal the nutrients from the soil that the coffee trees need. These chemicals are known to cause cancer, birth defects, and mayhem in the ecosystem. Agent Orange was the herbicide used in the Vietnam war. It is banned, as is Roundup in the USA, but Monsanto (now Bayer) and Dupont chemical sell it outside of the USA where environmental laws are lax.
Think about these three chemicals as a chemical stew. I promote Organic because it tells me that I am not adding to my toxic load and also not supporting agricultural practices that use poisons to grow food. Those are my values.
We each have to create our own buying criteria. The planet is a toxic mess. Ou buying decisions may determine how long it will remain hospitable.
CEO and ‘Old hippie Environmental Activist’