Saturday, March 7, 2009

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center "Bird Friendly" Seal

Uh-oh...I was just doing some additional research on shade-grown coffee and I found out that Trader Joe's Shade-Grown Coffee (and other coffee for that matter) does not have any third-party certifications for being shade-grown. That's actually one thing I noticed when I was looking at the label in the store, and when I was reading it again just now. They have the certified organic seal but that's it. To be labeled "Shade-Grown" I expected them to have something else.

After posting I visited Christopher's Picus Blog since I noticed in my Blogger Dashboard feed he had just posted about shade-grown coffee yesterday. I've been trying to find time to post about it since I bought the coffee on Tuesday, so I'm not copying you! I promise! Anyway, Christopher was inspired to write about shade-grown coffee after attending a talk by Kenn Kaufman. I've heard a lot of buzz about him and remember wanting to go to the lecture (on migratory birds) but obviously it slipped off my radar. Then I read it:

Unfortunately, not all shade-grown coffees are what they claim to be. Really some good research needs to be done to make sure that the coffee you are drinking really is helping the birds. This is where the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center comes in. Anything that they have certified as bird-friendly, you can be sure that the growers have been held to high standards.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center "Bird Friendly" seal looks like this:

Uh-oh...I'm was in trouble. I seriously doubted Trader Joe's fit into this category. I did a search and found this very informative blog on the subject--Coffee Habitat. It's written by Julie Craves, a University of Michigan bird ecologist. She's also a contributing editor to Birder's World Magazine.

Definitely check out the entire post at, but here's her synopsis on Trader Joe's:

The bottom line is that Trader Joe's shade grown coffees are not third-party verified, and TJ's offers no explanation as to how they've concluded that the coffees they offer are indeed eco-friendly. And because Trader Joe's does not provide enough information on the origins of most of their coffees, it's not possible to determine if they are actually grown in a sustainable manner.

After reading Christopher's recap of Kenn Kaufman's talk, and Julie's coffee conservation blog, I realize it's important to buy certified shade-grown coffee. I'm glad that Trader Joe's has introduced me to it at least, and now I'll go about researching my most cost-effective options for SMBC certified "Bird Friendly" coffee.

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