Thursday, March 18, 2010

Organic Coffee Farms Disappear

Organic coffee is a product seen in grocery stores and coffee shops all over the country, widely available and not too expensive. Companies like WalMart and McDonald’s helped to bring organic coffee into the mainstream market, but an article The Seattle Times explains that may not be the case for much longer. Organic coffee farmers are switching back to commercial farming due to buyers’ unwillingness to purchase the organic coffee beans at a higher price, even though the demand for organic coffee beans has been growing. Retailers want organic coffee for commercial coffee prices.

This industry got its boom about a decade ago when organic coffee farming was proposed as a way to make a profit in a dwindling market and help the environment. Thousands of Latin American growers jumped on the band wagon and started the long process to become an certified organic coffee farm. Organic farms are only certified if neither chemicals nor pesticides are found in the soil for three years. Many of the transitioning coffee farmers went into debt trying to survive those unprofitable years. Now, after all that work, they are switching back because they could not survive on the demanded lower prices. As a result, organic coffee farms are quickly disappearing from the landscape and their beans from our grocery stores.

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