I made up that part about Starbucks. Coffee gets credit for just about everything. Depending on the day, you will find that it either causes or prevents cancer, depression, heart attack, and ostensibly, sex. However, the article did get me wondering how the shade-grown coffee campaign was going.

Apparently, sustainable coffee accounts for less than half of one percent of all coffee sold, and can be split into three categories: Organic, fair trade, and shade grown. Shade-grown coffee presently accounts for about 0.1 percent of all coffee sold. (99.9% is not sold as shade grown). If I were a small farmer, still growing my beans under a jungle canopy, and Starbucks picked me as their go-to man for shade grown, I would be sitting pretty, and so would my jungle canopy. But, overall, one must conclude that the shade-grown consumer awareness campaign has been largely unsuccessful at preserving rainforests. That concept and a dime will no longer buy you a cup of coffee.

Why would a consumer pay more for coffee to preserve a rainforest? Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to give $50 to a reputable conservation organization annually and then simply buy any coffee you please (the Terra Pass concept)? Another strategy would be to buy the cheapest coffee you can stomach, so you can afford to give even more to a conservation organization. The bottom line is that if you really want to do something, you have to put your money where your mouth is. Not many of us do that. It goes against the grain of human nature to write checks to faceless non-profit organizations. Getting something you can taste, touch, or see (a bumper sticker, a certificate, a cup of coffee) in return helps to loosen the purse strings.

2.6 billion pounds of coffee consumed in North America annually.
11, 000,000 pounds of sustainable coffee consumed.
11,000,000 / 2,600,000,000 = 0.4%
One third of 0.4 percent is 0.13 percent.

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