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For over 30 years, folks in Unity, Maine have been trooping out to enjoy the Common Ground Country Fair where sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association. There they could buy honey, vegetables, fruits, grain, herbs and even clothing. The one thing that you never could enjoy at the Common Ground Country Fair was perhaps one of the most common beverages of all – coffee.
That’s because the Common Grounds Country Fair is focused on local produce, and the guidelines for produce and product sold at the Unity fair had to be made with at least some percentage of locally grown ingredients. And coffee, unfortunately for those of us with a hefty coffee addiction, simply doesn’t grow happily in Maine – or in most of the United States, for that matter.
However, the management of the Common Ground Fair has had a change of heart, and this September 25-27 for the first time ever, more than 60,000 expected Fair patrons will be able to buy a cup of coffee inside the Fairground gates. There’s a catch, though – any coffee sold inside the fairgrounds must be organic and ethically sourced.
It’s an interesting turnaround, when you consider that all over the world people are growing MORE conscious of the travels that their foods take before arriving on their plates. One of the key tenets of living greener is to buy locally-grown and locally-made as much as possible. Buying local cuts down on the amount of carbon consumed in transporting the goods from their place of origin to your kitchen.
That works fine when you’re talking about tomatoes and apples and summer squash – but what about coffee? How does an ethical environmentalist justify drinking a beverage made from beans that have to be shipped halfway around the world? Fair Trade, organics and ethical sourcing only goes so far – and doesn’t do much to reduce carbon footprint at all.
Never despair, coffee lovers! There are ways that you can reduce the carbon output of your coffee addiction. The best way, of course, is to locate a local roaster and buy your coffee from him or her. The closer your coffee roaster is to your kitchen coffee maker, the fewer miles your coffee has to travel to get to you.
Some other ways to reduce your coffee’s carbon footprint:
– Use a manual coffee grinder instead of an electric one to save electricity.
– Likewise, make your coffee in a way that uses as little fuel as possible. Go guilt-free with cold-brew coffee – no electricity at all used in making it!
– Use a permanent coffee filter instead of filling your local landfill with paper ones.