Q: Is it true that coffee is one of the most chemically treated crops on earth? And how is fair traded and shade grown coffee any better?
A: Yes, most conventional coffee is heavily sprayed with pesticides and grown with chemical fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides, all known to cause health problems, including cancer and nervous system and reproductive disorders. In fact, most coffee is imported from countries that use chemicals that are banned in this country.

My tips:

  • Look for Shade Grown on the label; it uses significantly fewer chemicals than sun coffee, and shade trees provide natural mulch, which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Choose “Organic,” which is grown without pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Buy “Certified Fair Trade” which means that farmers who grow coffee on small, pesticide-free land are guaranteed a minimum price for their coffee, allowing them to compete with big coffee growers.
  • Some coffees are labeled all three, but if you have a choice it’s best to buy organic since most organic coffee is shade-grown.

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Beth Greer, aka Super Natural Mom®, is an award-winning journalist, green holistic health educator, healthy home expert and impassioned champion of toxin-free living. She’s also a radio talk show host, and trusted consumer advocate, who is leading a movement of awareness and responsibility about healthy homes, schools and work environments. Connect with Beth on Facebook and Twitter.