While the watchdog lists don’t include data on coffee, many of the coffee beans we buy are grown in countries with lax regulations for use of pesticides. Look for the USDA Organic label to ensure you’re not buying beans that have been grown or processed with the use of potentially harmful chemicals.
Go a step or two further, and look for the Fair Trade Certified and Rainforest Alliance (or Bird Friendly) labels to ensure that your purchase supports farmers who are paid fairly and treated well. And look for shade-grown (Rainforest Alliance- or Bird Friendly-certified) varieties for the trifecta; that way you know the coffee is being grown under the canopy of the rainforest, leaving those ancient trees intact, along with the wildlife – particularly songbirds – that call them home.
Similarly to coffee, there’s no watchdog reporting on pesticides found in wine, but grapes are among the crops that are typically heavily doused with pesticides to ward off fungus and bugs. Fortunately, there are more and more fine organic wines on the market. Many will be labeled “made with organic grapes,” rather than “organic wine” because winemakers add sulfites as a preservative to allow for long-distance shipping.
Like coffee beans, cocoa beans are grown across the developing world, sometimes in countries without strict laws governing use of pesticides, worker rights or other factors we’d consider basic in North America. Buying organic chocolate ensures your sweet treat isn’t harming the environment or workers elsewhere.