Food and drinks around the world are gaining stickers, labels and little stamps for all sorts of things nowadays; whether it be health reasons, not tested on animals or one of many other reasons. Not all of these things are important or can lead to a benefit for the product, humanity or the planet, however, there are three terms that get associated with coffee that we think are important and worth understanding. These are: Fair Trade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified. Here we’re going to give each of these a little break down so that when you next see them you know why they’re important to your cup of coffee and the world near and far.
Fair Trade is a term we were all familiarised with a few years ago and it has been quickly growing in popularity due to manufacturers wanting to create a good image and let you, the consumer, know that they’re giving back to the community that they take from.
Fair Trade is more than just giving back to the community which provides the product. It is about promoting fairer trade around the world, paying the farmers or producers on time or providing them with a significantly sized (usually 50%) pre-payment for their product. Fair trade also means that the business has open communications channels throughout the whole business to involve all employees in the decision making process and to make sure they -the employees- have all the necessary information to make informed decisions. Companies marked as fair trade are committed to non discrimination and ensuring that they provide good working conditions and don’t use in child labour or participate in forced labour practices.
Want to know more? Here’s a link to the World Fair Trade Organization 10 principles of Fair Trade
Probably one of the most popular labels for goods over the past two or three years, everything from t-shirts to coffee are now being labeled as organic, and for good reason! The dictionary definition of organic is to not use artificial chemicals in the growing of plants and animals for food and other products; taken from the Cambridge Dictionary
For coffee (and other goods) this also means not using chemicals in the processing of the product. Nothing artificial or synthetic is allowed to be a part of the process involved in producing the final product. Regulations differ depending upon the country the goods are farmed in or produced in however in order to market goods as organic farmers and producers are usually required to obtain special certificates from government agencies and regulatory bodies (if they exist in the country).
If non-organic foods or items exist in products that are labelled organic they must be limited to just 5% of the overall product, at least that’s the limit in Australia, the USA and Canada. If you want to get into the nitty gritty here a link to the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA)
Rainforest Alliance Certified
The Rainforest Alliance is: a growing network of farmers, foresters, communities, scientists, governments, environmentalists, and businesses dedicated to conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. We are an international non-profit organization working to build strong forests, healthy agricultural landscapes, and thriving communities through creative, pragmatic collaboration. Taken from the Rainforest Alliance website
The Rainforest Alliance is committed to raising awareness of the damage we have done, and continue to do, to our planet and they're trying to preserve it for the good of everyone. As well as focusing on the health of the planet they are also focused on the livelihood of the local communities and their rights, very much in the same way as the World Fair Trade Organisation.
When you buy a product that is certified by the Rainforest Alliance you can be safe in the knowledge that you are helping to promote a culture that focuses on improving and protecting our planets limited natural resources whilst also helping and educating the indigenous and non-indigenous populations that live in these regions of the world.
Did you learn something? We sure hope so because we sure did! If you want to do your bit to help the global community in protecting our planet and your fellow citizens of earth then there are multiple ways you can do so.
The first and easiest would be to donate to the Rainforest Alliance which is an international nonprofit organisation.
Another, and possibly the most common, way you can get involved with these organisations and movements is to look for their logos (sorry we couldn’t put them in the article but you can find them through the links we’ve included!) on products that you’re planning on purchasing. Making this little change in your purchasing habits will have a knock on effect for the rest of the planet.
Finally you can do what we’ve just done to you: tell your friends! Send them this article right now! Like right now! You can also bring it up in conversation next time your down at the pub, or at the brewery ;). People are becoming more and more interested in movements like this and they’re much more likely to act if one of their friends is doing so too!