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At Verena Street, we proudly believe in sustainability and responsible sourcing. We source coffee beans through Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. On our Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees, you’ll notice the green Rainforest Alliance logo.

What is the Rainforest Alliance?

The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and promote the rights and well-being of workers, their families and communities. Farms that meet rigorous standards for sustainability earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal. These standards conserve biodiversity, ensure that soils, waterways and wildlife habitats are protected, and ensure that farm workers enjoy decent housing, access to medical care, and schools for their children. Core values of the Rainforest Alliance include sustainability and responsible sourcing. Farms must commit to a process of continuous improvement and are audited each year in order to maintain their certification. Smallholder farmers who earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal farm more efficiently, reduce their costs, and often earn a higher price for their cocoa, coffee, and tea.


Differences Between Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade

Many assume Rainforest Alliance certification and Fair Trade are the same, however, they are not. The standards of Fair Trade are designed to overcome poverty and empower producers in the world’s poorest countries, giving them a guaranteed price for their products. Our Iowa Native line of coffee is Fair Trade and organic.

Rainforest Alliance certification focuses on how farms are managed, with certification being awarded to farms that meet the extensive standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a global network that’s transforming agriculture to secure a sustainable future for food, nature, and rural communities. Rainforest Alliance certification teaches farmers and their families to farm responsibly and efficiently, ensuring their bottom lines grow today, while conserving the soil and natural resources on which they will depend on in the future.

The standards of SAN encompasses all three pillars of sustainability—social, economic, and environmental and gives farmers the knowledge and skills to negotiate for themselves in the global marketplace. Rainforest Alliance certification and training are teaching farmers, farm workers, and their families to farm responsibly and efficiently, ensuring their bottom lines grow today while conserving the soil and natural resources on which they and their future generations will depend in the future.

Farmers who earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal use fewer agrochemicals, which is better for the environment and their communities, and saves them money. They also protect waterways, soils and sensitive ecosystems, which help maintain a clean water supply for their families and their communities. This certification prohibits farms from using forced labor. Farm group administrators work to provide healthcare for workers and access to education for children. Workers are protected from excessive work hours and wage withholding.

Similarities Between Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade

Both organizations believe in the urgent need to transform agricultural practices. They share the belief that certification by credible systems is able to help with that transformation. There are many people in the world that toil away to grow and produce without anything to show for it, and deplete the soil and natural resources in how they go about it. Each of these organizations are committed to working towards both tackling unsustainable production and market practices.

They also share a commitment to high standards in their work, which is why they are both members of ISEAL, a worldwide association for social and environmental standards which works with companies, nonprofit organizations, and governments to support their use of voluntary standards.

In 2014, the State of Sustainability Initiatives Review did a study which reviewed independent organizations on social, environmental, and economic indices. The Rainforest Alliance/Sustainable Agriculture Network scored the highest overall average (84 percent) in terms of social impact, above Fair Trade (73 percent), and organic (51 percent).

In Conclusion

After learning more about the Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade, we don't believe one is better than the other. We’re proud to purchase and support both Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance-certified products. Here at Verena Street®, we feel it is our ethical duty to value the people who grow the coffee we roast as well as ensure sustainability practices and responsible sourcing for future generations.

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 @verenastreet             Verena Street Coffee Co.

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