Chocolate or specialty coffee can be an easy holiday gift to shop for. If you want to do a good deed for the planet at the same time, look for double or triple certified coffee or chocolate. When you buy these certified goodies, you're supporting sustainable livelihoods in tropical rainforests - livelihoods that don't involve clear-cutting of forests. Below are links to help you shop for these certified items online.
Coffee and Chocolate Labels to Look For:
* "Certified Organic"
* "Fair Trade Certified" ensures that companies pay farmers fair prices. More than 100 U.S. coffee companies have licensing agreements with TransFair, including Starbucks, Peet's and Green Mountain. Yet fair trade coffee still represents less than one percent of Starbucks' total coffee sales. The largest chocolate manufacturers, including Mars and Nestle, have yet to go fair trade.
* Certified "Shade Grown" includes the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's "Bird Friendly" label as well as Audubon and Rainforest Alliance's shade-grown labels.
* Triple certified—"Organic," "Shade Grown" and "Fair Trade"—products are the ideal but currently hard to find.
Here are a few sources of certified coffee and chocolate:
Equal Exchange's Organic Breakfast Blend ($8/12 oz.; www.equalexchange.com; 781-830-0303)
Caffe Ibis's Organic Espresso Roast Blend ($9.49/12 oz.; www.caffeibis.com; 888-740-4777)
Grounds for Change Sumatra Roast ($8.95/12 oz.; www.groundsforchange.com; 800-796-6820)
Cafe Canopy's triple certified French Roast ($10.50/12 oz.; www.cafecanopy.com; 888-299-1147)
La Siembra Group's Cocoa Camino (www.lasiembra.com/home.htm; 613-235-6122) hot chocolate, chocolate bars. Buy at globalexchange.org, www.serrv.org and www.chocosphere.com.
Green & Black's and Maya Gold Chocolate $3.50-$4 for a 100-gram bar (www.greenandblacks.com)
Equal Exchange (see above) hot-cocoa mix ($6 for a 12-oz. can)
See Coffee and Chocolate product reports at www.thegreenguide.com.
Source for the info above:
David Wortman. "Coffee and Chocolate: Choose Organic, Fair Trade, Shade." The Green Guide. National Geographic.
Why does shade-grown chocolate matter to birds?
Lots of those birds that visit your yard during summer migrate annually to and from Latin America where their habitat is being increasingly converted to sun-grown chocolate plantations.
Chocolate begins with the cacao plant, which is native to the rain forests of Central and South America. For more than a thousand years, cacao plants were cultivated throughout the forest under a lush canopy of shade.
While much cacao is still grown in the traditional way, many growers have cleared the forests to cultivate the trees in open plantations, leading to a host of environmental problems:
* Deforestation of traditional cacao farms adds to the loss of tropical forests that is already occurring at an alarming rate in Central and South America and Africa.
* Loss of forest habitat in this region is directly linked to a shrinking migratory songbird population worldwide.
* When trees are cleared, natural predators that keep insects in check are no longer present, so farmers turn to powerful pesticides that harm people and wildlife.
* Cacao plants rely entirely on tiny flies called midges for their pollination. Without these specialized insects, the world's supply of chocolate would be in jeopardy. And as rainforests are cleared, pollinators like the midge are in jeopardy.
The nice thing about eating certified chocolate is that the good feeling from supporting a sustainable and wildlife-friendly industry offsets the guilt from eating the chocolate! It works for me.
Source: Chocolate for the Birds. National Wildlife Federation. Where to Buy Organic Chocolate.
Keywords :: bird-friendly, certified coffee, certified chocolate, fair trade certified, environmental gift