04 Oct '11, 8am

Coffee: is the black stuff as green as it should be?

Coffee: is the black stuff as green as it should be?

The biggest source of environmental damage where coffee is concerned comes during the production of the beans themselves. The global surge in demand has had a profound effect on the growing methods used with massive implications for sustainability. Coffee grown by traditional means has been cultivated under a shaded canopy of trees, which provide a valuable habitat for indigenous animals and insects as well as preventing topsoil erosion and removing the need for chemical fertilisers. But thanks to market demands, this innocuous form of agriculture has been superseded by ‘sun cultivation’. Originating in the 1970s, sun-grown coffee is produced in plantations with no forested canopy, which has resulted in fertilisers becoming a necessity and has had a seriously detrimental effect on biodiversity. Farmers have been positively encouraged to replace their old, and supposedly in...

Full article: http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/food_and_d...

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