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Beyond organic coffee.
Over the past six years that I have spent working where coffee meets sustainability, I have become an outspoken advocate for organic agriculture. I muse, write, and rant (happily) about the benefits of organic farming – from worms in compost to stabilized yields to organic farming's potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – but usually I'm just thinking in terms of coffee farming. Occasionally, I branch out to learn and talk about other edibles – milk is an easy one, as a former barista – but I admit that I hardly ever think beyond the food on my dining table. This is silly, I know, because I don't even need to leave the dining room (or the analogy) to find another crop to explore: pick up a napkin and wipe the crumbs from the tablecloth, because cotton farming tops the list for chemical dependency – pesticides, in particular – when it's not grown organically.
It's easy to forget that what we put on matters as much as what we put in our bodies, at least when we're talking about the environmental impact. According to clothing company Patagonia, "fully 10 percent of all agricultural chemicals in the United States are used to produce cotton, grown on just one percent of all major agricultural land." This time last year, Patagonia shocked customers, supporters, and critics by publishing a Black Friday/Cyber Monday ad encouraging people not to buy products – including Patagonia clothing and outdoor gear – that they don't need. The company's Common Threads initiative is unique among retailers, and its commitment to the environment is fundamental to its identity, but did you know that 100 percent of their cotton is certified organic and that it has been since 1996? As they say, "The move didn't compromise quality and it provoked a fundamental change in our attitudes about agriculture ... many of us have shifted to buying organic foods and clothing for ourselves and our families."
If the statistic about chemicals on cotton grown domestically led you to wonder about the difference that organic cotton makes on an international scale, UK's Soil Association is the perfect place to look, especially now that they have teamed up with the Global Organic Textile Standard to promote organic cotton through the Cottoned On campaign. I can't help but love this pledge, especially in the context of our ongoing Save Our Soil campaign. I encourage you all to follow the link to Cottoned On and to "choose to support farmers and protect the environment" by pledging to buy organic cotton – as well as organic coffee, of course!
Kim Elena
POSTED IN: organic
Coffee Farming, Soil, and Organic Agriculture
Coffee education, quality, and sustainability are interdependent. Because we strive to be leaders in sustainable coffee and combine our commitment to buying the highest quality coffee with respect for the natural environment, we feel a responsibility to share what we learn with everyone. So, we're especially excited about a new addition to our Counter Intelligence coffee education lineup: an hour-and-a-half workshop called Coffee Farming, Soil, and Organic Agriculture, which debuted today in Durham.
The workshop introduces the concepts of agriculture as they relate to coffee farming, using organic certified Finca Nueva Armenia in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, as a case study. Participants learn about the agricultural intricacies of coffee production, explore organic alternatives to chemical fertilizers, and take away a seedling to nurture at home. As much about agriculture as it is about coffee, Coffee Farming, Soil, and Organic Agriculture s a great workshop for those in the coffee industry, but you don't have to be a coffee person to attend. Gardeners, foodies, agriculture scholars, organic activists are encouraged to participate. Stay tuned to our Counter Culture Coffee facebook page for future editions of this and other workshops.
Note: Our deliver carriers will not be operating Wednesday, July 4, in observance of the Independence Day holiday. No packages will be delivered that day, and packages in transit will not be moved toward their final destination. We will als be closed Wednesday. Orders received after midnight tonight through midnight Wednesday will be roasted, packaged, and shipped on Thursday, July 5.
POSTED IN: organic
Our soils are in crisis.
We want to help to reverse a global trend in agriculture that threatens not only coffee quality, but also sustainable food production, groundwater integrity, and our planet's biodiversity. Our new Save Our Soil campaign aims to raise awareness about the widespread degradation of soil health brought about by conventional, chemical-based agriculture and shed light on the critical importance of organic agriculture as the way forward.
Friday, April 20, Counter Culture Coffee training centers in Asheville, Atlanta, Chicago, Durham, New York, and Washington, DC, will host Save Our Soil launch events, which will include a cupping (tasting) of three different organic coffees followed by a presentation about the campaign.
Over the course of the next year, Counter Culture, our customers, and other partnering organizations will hold Save Our Soil events – from organic food and coffee pairings to home composting workshops and organic farmer round table discussions – focused on education, as well as opportunities for organic advocacy.
Save Our Soil is about solutions, and it carries the positive message that we can solve our soil crisis through organic agriculture, which builds rather than destroys soil health. We simply care too much about great coffee, and the communities that depend on it, to sit by while its future is threatened. We hope to inspire people to join us as fellow organic advocates!
Kim Elena
POSTED IN: organic