Those of you who know me well know that I NEVER drink coffee these days, as even a couple of sips tend to cause digestive upset.
But I know that many of you LOVE your morning coffee!
Or perhaps your afternoon coffee... or even evening coffee!
BUT... Pesticide, fertilizer, or plastic residue in your coffee? Or exploitative child labor? No thanks!
When consumed in moderation, studies have shown that coffee offers health benefits, such as:
- Reduced Pain
- Increased fiber intake
- Protection against cirrhosis of the liver
- Lowered risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Lowered risk of Alzheimer's disease
- Reduced risk of suicide and depression
- Protection against Parkinson's
- Decreased risk of heart disease
For the curious, you can read more about these benefits and find links to the studies that support them here
But BEFORE you brew your next cup or pick one up from your favorite shop...
Did you know that coffee is one of the most chemically-treated crops in the world
(as is cotton
, which we've previously discussed in relation to clothing and bedding)???
The coffee industry, centered around a highly desirable consumable product (second only to petroleum in global sales), not only treats its crops with toxic chemicals, but takes a variety of cost-cutting measures, such as inadequate drying, re-wetting, large batch roasting, and bad storage practices in the post-production handling of coffee.
There are a slew of factors to be aware of when choosing a coffee brand for your morning cup.
Here is my attempt to simplify it down to four main considerations.
1. PESTICIDES, FERTILIZERS & HERBICIDES
Coffee plants are steeped in synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.
For example, according to the CS Monitor:
Up to 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers are sprayed per acre of non-organic coffee.
Not only are these chemicals extremely harmful to the farm workers (including children) who are constantly exposed to a high levels, as are the communities that surround the farms, but they often remain in the final beans. This then damages the health of consumers.
One of the many health risks associated with pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides is that they can act as "xenoestrogens" in your body, disrupting hormone balance for both men and women.
See this article
for an in-depth explanation of the different pesticides sprayed on coffee plants.
2. SIDE EFFECTS
I always thought it was the caffeine in coffee that leads to things like jitteriness and racing heartbeat.
The truth is that many of the negative side-effects that are generally attributed to caffeine, are actually the result of the ochratoxins (AKA mold... see below) in the coffee.
Mycotoxins are molds that can grow on coffee beans, particularly when they are improperly processed.
One such toxin, ochratoxin, has been shown to cause cell mutation, organ toxicity, and even death of neuron cells in humans. These compounds can also cause cardiomyopathy, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, and even brain damage. They also make your coffee taste bitter, causing you to potentially add more sugar.
Think decaf coffee is better for your health?
Unfortunately, decaf coffee has been found to contain even higher levels of toxins, including aflatoxin and ochratoxin, than caffeinated versions.
[NOTE: Consider avoiding dry-processed coffee because mechanical and wet-processed coffees have fewer mycotoxins.]
4. PLASTIC PODS & COFFEE MAKERS LEACH CHEMICALS
Most coffee pods are made from plastic. When scalding hot water is dripped through the coffee pod, the chemicals in the plastic, such as BPA, leech into your coffee, mixing with the chemicals already in the coffee beans.
Coffee machines can have the same problem. The plastic filter holders inside coffee makers come in contact with hot water, leeching chemicals into the coffee as well.
The most effective way to protect against potential toxins in coffee is to choose certified organic coffee.
If you're going the extra mile, look for a brand that is third party tested for purity AND is fair trade (farmers treated fairly and precautions for child labor).
If you're ready to switch things up, here are some brands to consider:
Have a favorite clean coffee brand that I didn't list here? Please let me know about it in the comments. Would love to add additional brands to this list!
Happy coffee drinking!