academic source – coffee, conservation, and commerce in the western hemisphere

Throughout The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood provides commentary on the commercial coffee chains and their practices through her fictional chain Happicuppa. The academic source I have selected this week is a report issued by Natural Resources Defense Council over the impacts of industrial coffee production for coffee chains on the environment. The main point of the article is that current industrial coffee production results in the degradation of rainforest ecosystems, the agrochemicals used on coffee harm both the environment and people, the processing of coffee results in groundwater pollution, and the current growing practices of coffee result in the degradation of soil quality. Through each of these points, the article provides evidence through ecological studies of current practices as well as studies of more environmentally friendly methods. For improving rainforest ecosystems, the article provides evidence of higher biodiversity and rainforest size when coffee is grown in shaded forests rather than in open sunlight. For the use of agrochemicals, they provide evidence of all of the known dangers of current agrochemicals and therefore recommend no longer using these harmful chemicals and resorting to natural methods. For the groundwater pollution, they recommend better pollution control technology, though this has not been supported yet. And as for soil quality, they recommend shade grown coffee to better prevent soil degradation. This article proves valuable for better understanding Atwood’s inclusion of Happicuppa and the commentary on it she provides. In the book, she directly mentions all of these major issues in current commercial coffee production and through this article I was provided an explanation of what they are and the importance of reforming them to create a more environmentally-friendly coffee industry.

Coffee, Conservation, and Commerce in the Western Hemisphere. Rep. Natural Resources Defense Council, n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.


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