Sunday, October 21, 2007

Making a difference through Coffee

I already buy Peace Coffee, Cafe Fair, and Equal Exchange coffees frequently. But I recently found Yuban coffee at Rainbow. Instead of being Certified Organic, Fair Trade, and shade grown - it is Rainforest Alliance Certified. What does that mean?

According to their site it means: Rainforest Alliance Certification is a comprehensive process that promotes and guarantees improvements in agriculture, forestry and travel. Their independent seal of approval ensures that goods and services were produced in compliance with strict guidelines protecting the environment, wildlife, workers and local communities. To receive the Rainforest Alliance Certification, farms are inspected yearly and the certificate is only issued if the specifications are met and continuous improved is demonstrated. By following Rainforest Alliance guidelines, coffee producers can improve worker conditions, provide training, reduce waste, reduce costs, implement better farm planning and monitoring, and use the resources nature has provided without damaging them for the future. These things make a farm more stable and generally more prosperous for years to come.

On the Rainforest alliance website they state:

Kraft Foods, Inc.

As one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies, Kraft, with brands such as Maxwell House, Yuban, Kenco, Jacobs, Gevalia and Jacques Vabre, is passionate about coffee. In 2003, Kraft and the Rainforest Alliance launched a partnership to move Rainforest Alliance Certified sustainable coffee to mainstream markets. To date, Kraft has purchased more than 50 million pounds of coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and has successfully launched six coffee products in Europe and the US that feature the Rainforest Alliance seal. Kraft’s commitment to Rainforest Alliance certification has had an impressive impact on coffee producing regions, where thousands of farms have adopted the sustainable agriculture standard, resulting in better worker housing, healthcare, education and the protection of forests, wildlife and rivers. Farmers have invested the premiums Kraft pays for its Rainforest Alliance coffee in an array of improvements ranging from a school in El Salvador that the Ciudad Barrios Coffee Cooperative built for a nearby community to reforestation by farmers in the severely deforested Convencion Valley of southeast Peru, where shade coffee farms provide the only refuge for many threatened animal species.

I am going to buy these products, not just because I tried them and still enjoy their taste. But I want to reward these large corporations for actions that move our society forward. This is a fine example of how capitalism can work if consumers are constantly vigilant about change. I want to see Yuban 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified in the decade! They have done so in European nations, but the US market is much larger. We need more consumers to switch to the sustainable alternatives forged by both small competitors and mainstream brands like Yuban!

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