Help birds while you drink coffee
Birds connect us to people in distant lands. The migratory birds that arrive every spring in the United States are the same birds that you would see in South America during our winter. We could talk to a farmer in Nicaragua about the rose-breasted grosbeak and he would see in his mind's-eye what we see. The sorrow we feel as the bird populations dwindle here is the same sorrow felt by birders in South America as losses of forests in Central and South America mirror the habitat loss in the U.S.
It's easy to feel helpless but here is something that you can do to help – and it's as simple as pouring yourself a cup-a-joe and kicking back to watch the birds.
The cheap, sun-grown coffee we buy in the stores ultimately has a very high price. Because farmers can produce sun-grown coffee at a much higher density than shade-grown coffee, vast tracts of forest, particularly rainforests, are clear cut, decreasing habitat for native plants and animals as well as altering the ecosystem locally AND globally. Then, because birds and other insect-eating creatures no longer have the food source provided by the forests, farmers must use pesticides, i.e. poisons, on the plants to increase production. The world over, pesticides enter the water, air and soil and, ultimately, you and me as they circulate around the globe in the ocean and air currents.
The answer to the problems associated with our morning wake-up elixir is coffee certified as "bird friendly" by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. This designation ensures that the coffee farms raise the coffee organically so the soil is healthy and pesticide free. The designation also requires that the farms have a variety of native shade trees throughout the coffee plantation, providing habitat for dozens of species of migratory birds as well as soil stabilization.
Bird-friendly coffee fetches premium prices which provide a higher standard of living for the farm families; this income contributes to an improved local economy as more products and services are purchased by the coffee farmers. But the benefits don't stop there! These farms also provide firewood, building materials, fruit and vegetables, medicinal and ritual plants, and other crops that maintain and sustain the whole communities throughout the year adding to the economic stability of the farmers and their community.
As you can see, by drinking Smithsonian certified bird-friendly coffee, you contribute to raising people out of poverty, a healthier global environment and a healthier you.
Birds And Beans Coffee is the only coffee brand in the USA that is 100% certified shade-grown, Smithsonian Bird Friendly, USDA Organic and Fair Trade. Prices vary by roast starting at about $13.25 for 12 oz up to their best value of $52 per five pounds. You can order bird friendly coffee from birdsandbeans.com and, if you order between Oct. 26 and Nov. 1, you can get free shipping by using the code "FREEOCT". This benefits you and Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society, which gets a small donation from the company for each order.
Resident of Bay Village for about 30 years. Founder of Northeast Ohio Chimney Swift Conservation. Volunteers at Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Erie Nature and Science Center and Lights Out Cleveland Program. BA in Biology from CWRU. MS in Urban Studies, Environmental track from CSU.