Organics, I'm about to open a can of worms but you need to know. All right, the can has been opened, here we go down the slimy slope of entails. My focus is on coffee here and the organic labeling being used on it. There are some questions you should be asking, and really need to know, or should at least send a question to yourself when you see that Organic Label. #1: Is it worth the extra cost? Yes and no. #2: Is it really organic? Yes and No. #3: Are they using it as a marketing ploy? Oh hell yes and no.
Before we answer the questions, my credentials are I don't have any, other than I've visited several coffee producing countries and have been on numerous coffee farms and plantations. I have seen the process first hand from picking, transporting to market, to processing for shipping to the states. Our coffee buying strategies is simple. One: do we know the grower personally, Two: is it a good coffee Three: is it organic / fair trade or direct trade.(more about direct trade in another Rambling)
Here we go following my can of worms.
#1: is it worth the price? Yes, for sure if it is Labeled - Certified USDA Organic, and to the Companies that have that certification, my hats off to you. You start with a chemical free or almost chemical free product, then all the inspections and special handling cost, right down to the soap you must to use to clean the equipment between roasting / processing non certified coffee's. Then there is the cost to the environment of firing the roaster at a high temp for 30 mins to burn off any contamination between roast. Large companies have entire lines just for organic's. Smaller companies do it two ways, only buy/sell certified coffee's or take the hit and do the dance. Again is it worth the price NO if it's not certified, it's just coffee with a Organic label .
#2: Is it really organic Yes if it's been certified, and NO if it's not certified because there is no traceably. Keeping it free from contamination of non certified beans during the processing, if not it loses it's organic certification. Certified organic coffee can not even be on the same palette in shipping or storage because coffee is shipped in jute bags, there is a chance of cross contamination in just the bags touching. Is this extreme, yes but it's what it takes to Honestly offer a Organic product
Lastly #3: are they using it as a marketing ploy on you? NO if it's labeled, CERTIFIED USDA ORGANIC ..... Yes if it's just carries a Organic label they are playing on your healthily side just to get more $$$.
Now should you buy Organic's, yes and we do, the majority of our coffee is organic, but because we are not certified we don't feel right miss leading you our loyal customers by labeling it organic knowing we haven't gone thru the process of being certified. The Organic green coffee we have purchased this year is Mexican, Guatemala, Sumatra and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and this is only for your information not a sales ploy.
So now for the worm droppings, red worms are used to compost the coffee waste on the farms, then this compost is put back on the coffee plant for fertilizer. It's hard work and costly for the farmer to get that certification. Remember most coffee producing countries are classified as third world, and every one along the chain has their hand out taking a cut of the profits, that is where the major part of the cost increase is going. The sad part of the worm droppings, the poor farmer, is only getting about an 5% increase for his certified organic coffee. Before you get excited about that increased income, it is 5% of a yearly income of $200 to $300, and yes that figures out to a grand total of $10 to $15 a year. When you compare that to a 2% salary increases on our average salary of sixty thousand dollar salaries. (Google: average income for US worker), the added work, inspection stress and careful watch over the plants. Those that jump through the hoops make a few extra dollars.
My hope is now when you see an Organic label you'll go Hummm ! and look at it with a skeptical one eye open kind of face and ponder .
All Great coffee starts in the dirt
Lead worm herder