Behind every cup of coffee there are the farmers and the agronomists tasked with cultivating the crop. Their skills and their work are of fundamental importance to the coffee industry, and some companies want to recognize the roles these people play by honoring their achievements. For instance, Nespresso, the company behind the popular coffee capsules and brewing machines, launched the AAA Sustainable Quality Program in 2003, partnering with the Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit that awards product certification for sustainable livelihood and biodiversity protection. The program employs agronomists to advise farmers on sustainable cultivation methods. In October of this year, eight farmers from around the world, accompanied by agronomists, were honoured for their exceptional achievements in the AAA programme at a week-long visit to Switzerland and to Nespresso’s headquarters.
With members and hosts in almost 100 countries, there is very little international oversight for WWOOF. Instead, it is truly grassroots, with national WWOOF organizations in over 50 countries, and 45 more countries with independent hosts who are willing to take on volunteers. For a national membership fee, volunteers get access to anywhere from a few dozens to over 2,000 in-country hosts. After that, no money, not a single dollar, changes hands.
Everywhere, pesticides are wiping out bees and other pollinators. They are also losing their habitats and food sources because of development. The U.K. government is formulating a strategy, but critics are concerned that funding for proposed research might come from pesticide producers. As the debate goes on, one thing is clear: We all need to get planting.
Three US dollars. That’s about how much more you have to pay for a gallon of organic instead of conventional milk in the US. Over the past few years, organic products have increasingly found their way into consumers’ shopping baskets. But what makes them choose organic over highly processed products, and vice versa? There are reasons to be organic and reasons against being organic.
People have been producing organic food and using organic ways of farming for thousands of years. But the arrival of synthetic fertilizers and agrichemicals during World War II opened a path for heavy mechanization and chemically dependent farming methods so large in scale that they overshadowed centuries of organic-production practices.