Coffee is the heaviest chemically treated food commodity in the world, and the coffee industry is wrought with environmental destruction, deforestation, and social oppression. In support of passionate sustainable organic coffee farmers – Urth Caffé has sought to bring the greatest coffee to its customers – a coffee that is not only superb, but is also healthier for the people who grow it, who drink it, and for the world.
Coffee is the heaviest chemically treated food commodity in the world. Examples of some pesticides used that may be used on conventionally produced coffee are DDT and malathion, both of which are manufactured in the US, but are illegal to use on our soil. In lower altitudes, BHT is commonly used on coffee crops applied through airplane dusting. The most common chemical-based product used in coffee production is synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers. They slowly destroy the soil’s fertility while polluting local water supplies. Exposing coffee workers and their families to these harmful chemicals have caused birth defects and cancer.
Original heirloom coffee trees do not grow in direct sunlight, but under the shade of the dense rainforest canopy. Scientists have developed sun-resistant hybrid trees that now comprise 70% of the world’s production. The farmers are clearing lush rainforest at alarming rates to make room for these high yield trees. Non-profit bird watching groups estimate that 150 species of songbird have been displaced, or have gone extinct due to this practice in just the last 10 years.
Soil Erosion & Water Contamination
Short-term thinking brings poor maintenance of the land that has caused severe soil erosion in coffee growing regions. Farmers using the synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers year after year on the same plot of land will eventually find the soil exhausted and unable to grow anything. At processing plants, the coffee cherries are de-pulped in aqueducts. The chemically treated pulp is then routinely dumped into local rivers, all but destroying the water supply for those who rely on it.
Workers harvesting coffee for wealthy landlords make on average 25 cents per hour, and slave 12 to 14 hours a day. These conditions are worse than the garment industry. Farmers with small, remote pockets of land in high altitude locations fall prey to exploitive middlemen known as “coyotes”. These “coyotes” are international coffee buyers armed with cash who pay the farmers only pennies for what are some of the finest coffees in the world. Unfortunately, the farmers succumb to these offers due to their remote location – there is simply nobody else to buy it. While coffee retailers, roasters, and importers are getting rich from this kind of dynamic, many of the farmers and their families are barely surviving.