Today is Earth Day – a celebration of this beautiful, magnificent rock, hurtling itself around the sun year after year, that we call home. It’s also a day to pause and recognize that the human race has been raping and pillaging the planet for centuries, leading to overpopulation, over-industrialization, loss of plant and animal life, loss of natural habitat, and a tragic loss of natural resources.
Fortunately, there are some companies that are making conscious strides to reverse that trend in whatever small way they can.
One such company is Counter Culture Coffee, who recently launched their “Save Our Soil” campaign.
Years ago, on an episode of Saturday Night Live, Jack Handey had a “Deep Thought” where he said, “Somebody told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.”
Funny though that quote may be, it actually is a terrifying proposition for our planet. Of course, you may be thinking to yourself “The amount of topsoil we are losing each year has no effect on my day to day life.” But, listen readers, if you’re a coffee lover (and if you’re not, you may be reading the wrong blog), this fact does effect you in a big, big, big way.
Our soils are in crisisConventional, chemical-based farming is destroying soil health, leaving farms with increasingly barren earth. Extraordinary coffee – that which we are dedicated to – needs rich, thriving soil, since healthy soil leads to healthy coffee trees, prosperous farms, and delicious coffee.
When soils suffer, great coffee is impossibleThankfully, there is a solution. Organic coffee farming builds soil, using compost to create the rich, deep soil coffee needs. In contrast, the synthetic chemical fertilizer used on a conventional farm provides a quick “hit” of fertility, providing the appearance of bounty in the short run, but condemning the farmer to lower yields and lower quality in the future. We care too much about spectacular coffee to sit by while its future is threatened. That’s why we care about organic farming, and advocate for it everywhere we work. You can help too, by becoming an advocate for organic agriculture in coffee.
Please take a moment out of your busy day to read the press release they’ve provided below, get angry, ask questions, then decide for yourself what you can do to get involved.
Durham, NC (April 16, 2012) – Counter Culture Coffee wants to reverse a trend in agriculture that threatens not only coffee quality, but also sustainable food production, groundwater integrity, and our planet’s biodiversity. Introduced today, the organization’s Save Our Soil campaign aims to raise awareness about the widespread degradation of soil health brought about by conventional, chemical-based agriculture and shed light on the critical importance of organic agriculture as the way forward. Tomorrow, Friday, April 20, Counter Culture Coffee training centers in Asheville, Atlanta, Chicago, Durham, New York, and Washington, DC, will host Save Our Soil launch events, which will include a cupping (tasting) of three different organic coffees followed by a presentation about the campaign.
Over the course of the next year, Counter Culture, its customers, and other partnering organizations will hold a variety of Save Our Soil events – such as organic food and coffee pairings, home composting workshops, and organic farmer round table discussions – focused on education – such as building the connection between organic and quality – as well as opportunities for organic advocacy. Phase one of the 18-month campaign, which begins tomorrow, centers around building the connections between organic agriculture and sustainable quality in food and coffee. Phase two will begin this fall and delve deeper into the mechanism of organic agriculture, how it works, and how it contrasts with conventional, chemical-based agriculture. Phase three, which begins in spring 2013, will focus on educating people about how they, as individuals, can make a positive difference by becoming organic advocates in their homes, communities, and workplaces.
“The quick bursts of production afforded by conventional, chemical-based farming are ultimately unsustainable. In fact, chemical-dependent agriculture is destroying soil health, leaving farms with increasingly barren earth,” said Counter Culture Director of Coffee and co-owner Peter Giuliano. “Extraordinary coffee, which we are passionately dedicated to protecting, needs rich, healthy soil to thrive. When soils suffer, great coffee, and beyond that, great food, is impossible.”
Conventional, chemical-based agriculture in the United States contributes to a loss of approximately 1% of our topsoil per year (growing a bushel of corn via conventional, chemical-based farming can erode two to five bushels of topsoil per year). According to the National Academy of Sciences, U.S. farmland is being eroded at least 10 times faster than the time it takes for lost soil to be replaced. Furthermore, although land degradation is a problem for every country in the world, Central America has the highest percentage and the most severe soil loss. Perennials plants like coffee are especially sensitive to soil quality, because each tree relies on the same patch of earth for anywhere from fifteen to fifty-plus years. Some of Counter Culture’s most renowned coffees come from Ethiopia and Central America, which are some of the countries hit hardest by topsoil erosion. On a positive note, coffee – as a perennial plant and especially as part of a diverse, organic, and healthy ecosystem – can stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
“This campaign is about solutions, not finger-pointing, and thankfully, there is a solution to our current soil crisis: organic coffee farming, which builds rather than depletes soil health. We simply care too much about great coffee, and the communities that depend on it, to sit by while its future is threatened,” said Counter Culture Sustainability Manager & Coffee Buyer Kim Elena Ionescu. “That’s why we created this campaign: to advocate for organic farming everywhere we work. We hope to inspire people to join us as fellow organic advocates!”
Counter Culture has published a Frequently Asked Questions for Save Our Soil, as well as an information-rich Save Our Soil section of their website at counterculturecoffee.com/saveoursoil, where events, initiatives, and opportunities to take part in the campaign will be published.