Thursday, February 10, 2011

Such A Strange Way To Live

The improbable Black-necked Stilt. Photographed in Martinez, CA.

I know not everyone who comes here is a blogger, so let me clue you in to the BB&B writing process. First, there needs to be coffee. I must have coffee, preferable shade-grown and organic. Now is when the coffee sets in and I immediately deviate from what I set out to do.

Stellar's Jays never get old. At least for me.

So. A lot of people like coffee. I have a strong distrust of people who don't. I'm sorry, but its true. At any put it simply, coffee is grown in three ways.....the commonest is the standard sun-grown, which uses a lot of chemicals and is what you can find at gas stations and greasy-spoons across the country. Then you have organic coffee, which leaves out many of the toxic pesticides and fertilizers used with sun-grown stuff. Or, as the Organic Coffee Association puts it: "In order for coffee to be certified and sold as organic in the United States, it must be produced in accordance with U.S. standards for organic production and certified by an agency accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S. requirements for organic coffee production include farming without synthetic pesticides or other prohibited substances for three years and a sustainable crop rotation plan to prevent erosion, the depletion of soil nutrients, and control for pests." 

Yes, there are better White-tailed Kite pictures out there, but I recently had a dream about one so I feel the cosmos want me to post this here. Who am I to deny the cosmos?

Eared Grebe. Note the economy of style. Photographed at the Salton Sea, CA.

So this is a good thing. Finally, there is shade grown coffee. To put it simply, shade grown leaves the forest as intact as possible. Sun-grown coffee clear cuts it. Shade grown coffee plantations can still host vibrant ecosystems, sun grown plantations are almost worthless to wildlife. Whenever you buy run-of-the-mill coffee, you are often financially supporting cutting down rain forest, cloud forest, or some other awesome habitat that supports thousands of species of plants and wildlife. Do you really want to be doing that? We may live in a democracy, but lets face, we vote with our dollars too.

This Northern Harrier is missing a good chunk of her tail. Martinez, CA.

Look, I'm not trying to get all high and mighty on you. I love my shitty Waffle House coffee as much as the next guy. But if you are shopping at your local hippie market and are presented with the choice between Starbucks and something shade-grown, spend an extra dollar and get the good shit. You won't regret it.

Huh. Well apparently that's how I write a blog. I also had a Jehovah's Witness visit in the middle of it. None of these pictures have anything to do with coffee, but I think you should see them. Mahalo.

An immature Ferruginous Hawk in the 'burbs. Photographed at Willits, CA.


  1. Thank you for the edification. I may have to share this! =) (yes, coffee good. When people ask how much I drink, I usually lie so they don't freak out.)

  2. Thanks BB. Do it! Life without coffee would be sad indeed. Yerba mate is ok though.

  3. I too require coffee. Often. In large, disturbing quantities. (same goes for yerba mate). Or red wine, but I guess not in the huge quantities- that could get ugly. Either way. Way to bring this to attention to those who aren't aware. Shade-grown is the way to go. Sadly, I have found nowhere in mississippi (ew) to get it - lame huh!? So well. That's a bummer because just this morning we ran out. So no coffee for us until we head to Nashville next weekend, where indeed, my friend, we can buy bulk shade grown. Anyway, this is a pet peeve of mine so I'm not stopping my comment yet.
    For our wedding favors, Zac and I had shade grown coffee and a big old poster size board with why exactly shade grown is freaking crucial. I also made stickers of a cute Blue-headed Vireo to slap on our shade-grown coffee bags. There! There it is! The end.
    Is the White -tailed Kite your spirit animal? Mine's a sea turtle. Also, dig the Grebe. and the stilts. they make me happy.

  4. Stellar it may be — however, the name is Steller's. OMG, I am such a bird-name weenie.

  5. Balls! Yes, of course it's a Steller's Jay. Lots of coffee can have ill side effects, regardless of the quality...

  6. I'm a jerk. No more Starbucks Via for me. Organic, shade grown(decaf,coughcough) for the rain forests and the birds!