Toxic Chemicals in Coffee…Say WHAT?

I drank Cherry Coke for years because I wanted caffeine and didn’t like either coffee or tea.  I stopped when I found out it really WAS melting my bones.  I’d always known it was bad for me but I was actually more concerned with the empty calories, the high sugar content and Diabetes. I kinda thought that Coke’s ability to “melt” objects was just an urban legend…I didn’t really believe if I put a spoon in Coke it would be gone the next morning, ya know?

But then I found out the bone melting thing was indeed true and, as I had just turned 50, the whole aging thing was starting to become something I figured I should probably pay attention to.  But my final straw was when my car wouldn’t start and I grabbed a bottle of Coke and poured it onto the battery acid.  And the acid melted and my car started right up.  Well, that and the headaches I’d started getting.  Turns out they’d started putting Aspertame in all Coke products (it went from real sugar to high fructose corn syrup to Aspertame) and whereas there is a lot of controversy about that particular sweetener, for me I just know it gives me headaches.

So I never drank coffee until I was 50 years old.  Mostly because I thought it tasted horrible…and I had my Cherry Coke.  For me, there wasn’t enough sugar in the world to mask the taste of coffee.  I used to tell people I loved the smell but it “tastes like liquid penicillin.”

Then there were the headaches I got the few times someone managed to get me to try some coffee drink with all kinds of things added to it…chocolate, whipped cream, whatever.  These headaches were nearly blinding to me…I’d wake up with one the next morning and just groan…the headaches were FAR worse than the Cherry Coke headaches and even more intense than the worst alcohol hangover I’d ever had!

Now I’m thinking these past experiences are due to 2 reasons:  1) stale coffee tastes bitter (it goes stale REALLY fast and most of what we buy in the stores is already stale); and 2) the toxic chemicals probably caused more bad taste PLUS world class headaches.

So I find out about the toxic chemicals in coffee. The idea REALLY freaked me out but the knowledge was even worse when I learned about the effects on the coffee farmers (and their families and communities.)  Since coffee is still hand picked…can’t be mass harvested…the farmers and workers are handling these nasty chemicals and the chemicals are in their communities.  One line in the article (where I got the list below from) said this :  “While the roasting process dilutes or eliminates the harmful effects of these chemicals for consumers, coffee workers and their families are still at high risk.”  

Sorry but you can’t convince me this crap somehow magically disappears once it’s processed…and the author did not give me any source for that statements.  In my experience, chemicals are “to the bone” so to speak.  In the soil, in the plant, in generations of the plants, in the water supply, stored in our brains, muscles, bones, etc.  I am NOT a fan of toxic chemicals and I sure don’t want to drink them, eat them or smear them on my skin!!!

It’s not only bad that farmers are getting paid slave wages for coffee (the 2nd most highly traded commodity on the planet; oil is the first) but to find out they’re being poisoned to do it?  No can do, period.  (Luckily I found an excellent alternative with Our Mission Organic Fair Trade Coffee…better taste, living wages and NO CHEMICALS!!)

Here are a few of the lovely chemicals in coffee:

Methyl Parathion

This is the most toxic pesticide of all. It is banned in many countries and is highly toxic to humans, birds, fish, and mammals. It’s used to fight leaf miner infestations. Leaf miners are insects that eat at leaves of plants.  Despite how dangerous it is, it’s still (mis)used in some countries.

Endosulfan

This pesticide is used against coffee cherry borer, a common coffee consuming bug. It’s doesn’t dissolve easily and takes ages to break down in soil and is toxic to most animals. It affects the central nervous system, reproductive organs, kidneys, and liver, and is considered to be worse than the pest itself; it’s even been responsible for human death!

Chlorpyrifos

This is also used against common coffee pests and has been banned in the US for household use because it has caused human death and birth defects. Needless to say, it’s quite detrimental to delicate ecosystems.

Triadimefon

Copper-based fungicide used to against coffee rust. Only slightly toxic to birds, little is known about its effect on humans, but it is suspected that there is potential for reproductive problems with chronic exposure.  It has been found to induce hyperactivity in rats. The major concern is that long-term use of this and other copper-based fungicides is copper accumulation in soils, such as that found in coffee farms in Kenya and in Costa Rica.  Copper toxicity has been found in other crops grown in these soils, and copper impacts other biochemical and biological processes in soil, and little is known about long-term effects in tropical ecosystems. The primary metabolite of triadimefon is triadimenol, which is Class III (slightly hazardous).

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