Friday, February 2, 2007

Petroleum and coffee had no value a few centuries ago. ~Author Unknown

Paul Baicich loaned Warren and I the DVD Birdsong and Coffee: A Wake Up Call along with a piece he did for the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology entitled Coffee Lessons, Coffee Links.

Paul is really tuning us into the need to be bird-conscious consumers. Or as Paul puts it: consumer- birders. Through our buying patterns, we (and you!) can make a big difference in habitat conservation.

The type of java you decide to purchase could actually be a choice that saves birds and preserves their habitat. Here's the 411 on coffee labeling to make an informed choice.....

Shade grown coffee is grown under the canopy of shade trees, often using traditional techniques that avoid the use of chemicals. Coffee that is grown under tree canopy flourishes in leaf litter. This organic material contributes to the nutrients in the soil, reduces erosion and acts as a natural fertilizer. And, coffee grown in the shade provides food and shelter for songbirds and other plants and animals.

According to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, "studies in Colombia and Mexico found 94-97% fewer bird species in sun grown coffee than in shade grown coffee. This comes as no surprise since over two-thirds of the birds are found in the canopy of shade plantations and less than 10% are found foraging in coffee plants."

Here are some sites where you can buy shade grown coffee.

Selecting certified fair trade coffee ensures that coffee farmers get a fair price for their product. According to TransFair USA, fair trade certification "guarantees farmers a set minimum price for their coffee and links farmer-run cooperatives directly with US importers, cutting out middlemen and creating the conditions for long-term sustainability."

A fair price for coffee is important because when coffee prices crash, farmers and their families are driven into poverty and are often forced to clear the land for other crops or other livelihoods, such as cattle.

Here's where you can purchase fair trade coffee direct from the farmers.

Selecting organic coffee ensures that the planet is not raped by the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Chemical treatments not only endanger the lives of the farmers but also pollute the birds and animals that feast on the exposed insects.

Want to use your coffee budget to do it all: save bird habitat, sustain coffee farmers and avoid chemical use? Go triple certified, which is getting easier to find. For Fair Trade Organic and Shade Grown Coffee, try here.

If you only drink specialty coffees, the cost differential makes it easy to buy a better world. Starbucks Breakfast Blend is about $9.75 a lb. You can buy Fair Trade Organic and Shade Grown for about the same plus shipping.

Organizations such as Global Exchange organized a campaign to pressure Starbucks to offer Fair Trade Certified Coffee as their daily Coffee of the Day offering. You can fax a letter directly to Starbucks from their site to show your support.

After all that Warren and I learned about coffee, our only option is to buy the right beans. Millions of Americans drink coffee. Birders looking for an early morning fix before hitting the hunt drink coffee. Our coffee choice could make a huge impact for birds.

And guess what I found at Trader Joe for the non-coffee drinker? ORGANIC FAIR TRADE HOT COCOA.

To my cute husband (it is the weekend!) ....

He was my cream, and I was his coffee -
And when you poured us together, it was something.
~Josephine Baker

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