Coffee’s worldwide popularity has come at a cost to flavour and birds
rich drink. There are lots of aphorisms about not speaking to someone before their first cup of coffee. Some may say it's an addiction while others insist it's a necessity. Either way, the coffee industry is
a huge one and will surely never go away unless a major catastrophe pro- duces that decision. Most drinkers have their favourite coffee, but have you ever thought about where your java is grown and the impact it may have on nature?
Canadians place number 12 on the
offee is by far the most popular morning drink around the world. Many people can't or won't begin the day without their fix of this caffeine-
It was traditionally produced from shade-grown, coffee-tree seeds. Now, big business has been moving in with its own sun-grown coffee, letting the now-cleared land erode. Transformed, the once rich-tasting product loses its great flavour and its soul – and destroys a place for the birds.
scale of coffee consumption per capita. Believe it or not, the United States is in sixteenth place while the Netherlands leads the pack with the largest per capita consumption. In 2010, a survey showed that 65 per cent of Ca-
nadian adults drank coffee daily at about 2.8 cups per day. Quebec drinks the most at 71 per cent, with the Prairies in second place at 64 per cent. The awareness and cause-related coffee purchases continue to increase more than for any other cause-related product. For ex- ample, the switch to organic and fair trade coffee ex- ceeds that of any other cause-related industry. The combined amount of land dedicated to coffee plantations is 25 million acres, located primarily in Africa and South America. Coffee trees are small and grow under the canopy of other trees, providing a great amount of habitat for birds, butterflies and bats. Many of the migratory birds that spend their summers here in Manitoba make coffee plantations their winter homes. These species include American redstart, Baltimore ori- ole, Swainson's thrush, and the chestnut-sided warbler. Traditionally, coffee is grown on shaded trees but
the demand for cheaper coffee has caused literally thousands and thousands of acres of forest to be de- stroyed. New varieties of coffee known as “sun coffee” and “technified coffee” have been created so the coffee can be grown without shade, and of course produce a higher yield. In Latin America, seven million acres of natural, shade-grown coffee have been heavily cut back as the sun coffee plantations take over. Once the natural way of growing is altered, the need for chemi-
Sherrie Versluis Feathered Friends
That morning cup of coffee has been doing more than waking you up in the morning. Perhaps it's time to switch.
cal fertilizers and pesticides begins. The deforestation also causes soil erosion and the depletion of nutrients, damaging the whole ecosystem. Many coffee plantations are small family-owned op- erations where the habitat is unaltered and the popula- tions of birds and other wildlife is plentiful. The trees provide food as well as habitat, and this benefits the farmers as the birds are their natural insect controllers. It’s extremely important that these types of businesses be supported to sustain what's left of natural coffee farms as opposed to the corporate destruction zones. Purchasing certified shade-grown coffee is key if the
people are to avoid contributing to the destruction of habitat and wildlife. When buying coffee consumers can do this by checking for the country of origin. El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Bolivia, In- dia and Ethiopia are the most likely to produce cof- fee grown in natural shade forests. Avoid Costa Rica, Brazil and Columbia as the majority of producers from these regions grow sun coffee. Look for coffee from small companies rather than large corporate brands. Smaller coffee companies have relationships with the farmers. They provide fair value for their product, and
Wrongful confinement I
Don’t banish your best friend to the back yard.
n the bygone days we were pre- dominantly a farming culture and most dogs lived in rural areas. We
had few fences and dogs were working animals. They roamed their territory during the day, helped round up the cattle, followed their owners in the barn and romped on the fields. At night they stayed around their homes and provided warning if any animal or person was approaching. Although the dogs lived outside, their owners worked mostly outside and hence the dogs had a con- nection with their human family. Today, however, most dogs live in a
very different environment. Now the majority of dogs live in the city – mostly in houses on clearly defined, contained lots. They are not allowed to roam at will or seek out other animals. But many people still keep their dogs outside in the back yard. This mindset seems in part to be a holdover from that bygone era. Urban dog owners give a variety of reasons for keeping their dogs confined to the yard: the dog sheds too much, the dog is a guard dog, the dog pees in the house, the dog is too big and clumsy, a member of the family has allergies, the dog enjoys being outside. However, if we take a look at the in- nate nature of dogs it becomes evident
that an outside dog benefits no one. Dogs, like humans, are pack animals. They do not like to live in isolation but prefer to be part of a group. They are social beings, in fact more social than humans. Dogs who live in isolation are less friendly, more aggressive, and bark, howl, dig and chew excessively. Dogs are also den animals and seek
shelter and security when resting. With- out this feeling of safety dogs remain tense, uneasy and suspicious. They tend to run away when possible and rarely re- turn willingly. Should an intruder enter a door or window of the house, the out- side dog rarely reacts defensively, since the house is not his territory. In fact, if a robber opens the gate most outside dogs will just run away. An in- door dog on the other hand will jump at the door or window and bark loudly if an intruder attempts to enter the house. The dog is protecting his domain. Owners who cite allergies as the reason
for sentencing the dog to a life outside should try cleaning methods or flooring materials that will allow the animal to stay in closer contact. It often helps to replace carpeting with hardwood or tiles and to use leather rather than fabric on furniture. You can reduce allergy prob- lems by teaching the dog not to enter
Be nice to your best friend.
certain rooms and to stay off the furni- ture. If all attempts to relieve allergies fail, then you should consider finding the dog a more suitable home, rather than relegating him to the outdoors. Backyard dogs are much harder to
train. Since these dogs do not have a strong bond with the owner, they do not regard the owner as part of the pack, let alone its leader. People who keep their dogs outside will often argue that they feed and walk their dogs, and are thus spending time with them. Howev-
the coffee will continue to be grown in a sustainable way. Large companies always focus on the money not the quality, and rarely consider the impact of their busi- ness on the environment and wildlife. If you are buying basic, inexpensive grocery-store
coffee you are contributing to the decline of songbirds and the destruction of important habitat. The support this type of coffee obtains at store sales counters each and every day is a daily contribution to these problems. Certified coffee is going to be more expensive until more people start to support it. As a quality drink, and a hugely enjoyable one, shade-grown coffee is, after all, in a class of its own. You may have to spend an additional $100 per year
based on two cups a day to support certified coffee, but in doing so you are helping protect important natural habitat. If you enjoy sun coffee now, I suggest you will start the day with a smile on your face thanks to the fine flavour you will discover in your cup, and the great aroma rising out of it. And with the knowledge you are supporting nature and not corporate greed. Sherrie Versluis owns The Preferred Perch on St. Mary’s Road in St. Vital.
er, an hour a day spent with a dog who otherwise lives alone doesn’t meet his mental needs. Besides, such owners will too often find excuses such as inclement weather or a busy schedule to shorten the interaction with the dog. The dog knows he is not really part of the family. This knowledge make him less respon- sive to commands, which often leads the owner to have even less contact with the dog. Furthermore, statistics indicate that because of the increased computer and television capabilities at our dispos- al, we are spending less time in our own back yards and therefore less time with the dog who lives there. Even the most rambunctious dog
can be trained to live successfully in the home. The more control we have over a dog’s environment, the more control we have over the dog itself, and when a dog is left alone indoors, the owner’s scent and personal areas help to remind the dog what he’s been taught. Except in extreme cases, owners who
use behaviour problems as an excuse for confining a dog to the outdoors are abdicating their responsibility. Dogs kept outside live a miserable existence. They need social interaction, exercise, a change of scene, mental stimulation and especially a sense of belonging. Owners who make their dogs an integral part of their lives are rewarded with uncondi- tional love and loyalty.
Pet lover Robert Urano was long-time operator of a pet food store.
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