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What's the Difference Between Shade-Grown, Fair-Trade, and Organic Coffee?

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Green expert Sara Snow helps you decipher coffee labels. Learn the difference between shade-grown, fair-trade, and organic coffee.
Q. What's the difference between shade-grown, fair-trade, and organic coffee?

A. Your cup of joe has a complicated history, so seeking out these three designations on labels is good for you and the environment. Many coffee manufacturers raze trees, leaving birds and other creatures homeless, but shade-grown beans aren't cultivated at the forest's expense; they're often picked by hand. "Fair Trade Certified" ensures that growers receive fair wages and work under safe conditions, and "USDA Organic" means the beans are grown without pesticides.

 

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Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2010.

 

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