Drink Shade-Grown Coffee
Unlike shade-grown coffee, most of the $4 billion worth of coffee imported by the United States each year is grown under conditions that severely damage the environment and jeopardize wildlife, especially migratory birds. By contrast, organic, shade-grown coffee plantations are environmentally supportive and provide critical habitat for as many as 200 species of birds, as well as dozens of species of insects, amphibians, and plants.
Traditionally, shade-grown coffee was the norm on the large coffee plantations throughout Mexico and Central and South America. While coffee is still grown in these areas, most of the coffee-growing plantations have been largely stripped of their trees in an attempt to get higher yielding harvests, but the move has resulted in devastating damage to the environment and wildlife. In some areas, environmentally sensitive rainforest is being cleared to make way for coffee growing. The resulting sun-grown coffee plantations are plagued by erosion, the need for year-round use of pesticides, high levels of toxic run-off, and poor soil quality.
While traditional shade coffee plantations were once havens for billions of migratory birds, now many species are losing their habitats. In Columbia and Mexico, for example, 94 to 97 percent fewer bird species are found in sun-grown coffee than in shade-grown coffee areas.
Organic coffee and shade-grown coffee plantations provide many advantages. For example, shade-grown and organic coffee farms:
Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee per day, making them the world's leading consumers of coffee. But since most of that coffee does not come from organic or shade-grown coffee plantations, their coffee habit supports environmentally damaging practices. You can help reverse the damage by buying and insisting upon shade-grown and organic coffee. An added bonus: organic, shade-grown coffee beans mature more slowly in the shade, which enhances the flavor of the coffee.
I Did This!
Let your next cup of coffee, latte, cappuccino, or espresso lift more than your spirits; let it contribute to the preservation of habitats for migratory birds. You can make that difference starting right now by having a cup of organic, shade-grown coffee:
Be prepared to answer their questions. To do so, you can learn more about shade-grown coffee from the Audubon Society, which has active campaigns to help promote shade-grown coffee as a way to preserve habitats for birds. You can also learn more about shade-grown coffee and the impact of sun-grown coffee on migratory birds from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Coffee Research Institute.
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