Organic, Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade
Many farmers rely on agriculturally sound growing practices. Planting shade trees to help pest control and pruning coffee plants to be at their peak for production and flavor are just two examples. Despite this fact, many farmers in the coffee producing countries are not organically certified because of the cost of the certification process. In order to promote the importance of sustainability and ensure this type of farming for the future, supporting the farmers who are organically certified is necessary.
Organic coffee is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. It is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. In order to be labeled "organic," a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must also be certified. More information can be found at organic.org.
Alakef Coffee Roasters has met the Organic Standards established under the USDA National Organic Program since October 14, 2002.
For more information on Organic coffee certification, visit www.ocia.org
The Rainforest Alliance’s unique approach comprehensively addresses the three pillars of sustainability: environmental protection, social equity and economic viability. More than two million farmers, farm workers and their families directly benefit from Rainforest Alliance certification. Farmers indicate that meeting the criteria is a challenge but doing so helps them farm intelligently, gain confidence, get ahead and plan for their futures. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms have met rigorous social and environmental standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN).
The SAN, the oldest and largest coalition of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) striving to improve commodity production in the tropics, develops criteria for responsible farm management. The standards developed by the SAN Secretariat comply with the Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling (ISEAL) Alliance. The ISEAL Alliance is an association of leading voluntary international standard-setting and conformity assessment organizations that focus on social and environmental issues. ISEAL Alliance members collaborate to build international recognition and legitimacy for their programs. This collaboration represents a significant global movement to promote the interests of workers, communities and the environment in world trade.
For more information on Rainforest Alliance, visit http://rainforest-alliance.org
Fair Trade Certified coffee is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. specialty coffee market. It guarantees farmers a designated price per pound for their hard work. As coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil, farmers in third world countries often lose money to the whims of the market. Buying Fair Trade certified coffee not only supports those working in third world countries, but also helps ensure a sound future for the specialty coffee industry.Fair Trade criteria for coffee is:
- Guaranteed floor price or income paid directly to the producer
- Fair labor conditions for all people working on the farms
- Freedom of association for farmers and workers, and democratic decision-making processes
- Environmental standards that restrict use of agrochemicals and foster sustainability
- For cooperatives, pre-harvest lines of credit
At these co-ops, income (from Fair Trade) funds schools and basic medical care for families. Fair Trade provides opportunities for economic independence and community involvement for women. Cooperatives enable farmers to achieve economies of scale, and they invest a portion of their Fair Trade earnings in community development, coffee quality improvements, and training in organic farming techniques.
For more information on Fair Trade coffee visit www.transfairusa.org