The Pesticide Problem - Are You Sipping On A Cup Of Joe, Or A Cup Of No?

11 min read JAN 13, 2023

Coffee isn’t just tasty, it can be extremely beneficial to your health as well.

The operative wording there? Can be…

Unfortunately, not all coffee is created, or grown, equally. In fact, conventional coffee, as opposed to organically grown coffee, is grown with the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

And, while that doesn’t necessarily sound appealing, one has to wonder, could it be that we’ve heard of this practice so often that we’ve become desensitized to exactly what this means?

So, to put it pointedly, using chemical pesticides in the coffee growing process can cause serious problems for the environment and your health.

Yet, coffee is one of the most heavily chemically treated crops.

What does this mean for coffee-lovers? Instead of reaping the healthy rewards that coffee can offer, if you’re drinking conventionally grown coffee, you could be slowly sipping disease-causing toxins!

So then, what’s in your cup? Are you sipping on a daily cup of joe, or a cup of no?

And, if you are sipping toxins, what can this do to your health?

Furthermore, how does the use of pesticides in conventionally grown coffee affect the environment?

And, how can you know that you’re drinking clean, nutrient-dense, healthy, pesticide-free coffee?

We’ll answer all of these questions and more as we dive into the problem with pesticides. 

The Pesticide Problem

If pesticides truly are a problem, why are they used on our foods and other products we use, wear, or drink?

Great question, but I can’t say the answer is all that satisfying.

To put it simply, there’s a lot of people on this planet. And, collectively, we consume a lot of food, drink a lot of beverages (such as coffee), and wear/use a lot of other items.

So, foods and non foods, for consumption and other uses, are grown in massive amounts to meet this demand.

Then, of course, when you’re growing plants, insects and weeds generally won’t be in short supply.

Therefore, to mitigate the potential loss incurred through insects, weeds, and plant disease, growers incorporate the use of chemical pesticides.

Now, that word alone sounds like something you should avoid. But, the notion of weeds and insects harming crops wins the war many (or most) times when it comes to whether or not this killer should be used.

That’s right, I said killer.

A quick Google search to find what pesticides are used for reveals this substance to be a simple controlling agent for weeds and pests. And, while that sounds relatively tame, when you look only one step further, you find there’s more to the story.

The Oxford dictionary defines pesticides as “substances used for destroying insects or other organisms.”

Unfortunately, the use of pesticides doesn’t only destroy pests, but everything else these chemicals come in contact with as well.

Here, we’ll look at three areas affected by pesticides: the environment, coffee, and your health. 

Pesticides And The Environment

When it comes to pesticides, these chemicals are meant to destroy any insects and/or weeds, algaes, bacteria, etc that could threaten the life of a crop.

But, what happens to the animals that naturally eat these crops?

The deer that eat minute amounts of the corn (minute in comparison to the entire crop) are affected.

The bees that pollinate the flowering plants of these crops are affected.

And, though they are seen as pests to the crops being grown, all insects feeding on such plants are destroyed with the use of pesticides, thus affecting insect populations and limiting food sources for other animals.

Truly, all animal species that rely on plant and insect life can be affected through the use of pesticides, both from direct exposure and when they consume plants that have been sprayed with these chemicals.

Wildlife populations and their habitats are also affected through soil that’s been polluted with pesticides.

Once in the soil, pesticides can linger there for several months to nearly 3 years, killing off beneficial bacteria and microorganisms.

When this happens, the soil quality degrades which affects plant growing potential and eventually leads to erosion.

Both degraded soil quality and erosion then contribute to the need to deforest new areas to plant crops.

Then, aside from the direct effects of pesticides on soil, these chemicals also eventually make their way from the ground to nearby bodies of water where rising water temperatures (an impact of climate change) actually increase the toxicity of the pesticides that make their way into them.

As pesticides enter bodies of water, not only does this contaminate water sources for humans and animals, it also kills the insects and plant life which live in them, in turn limiting the food supply for fish and other animals.

Some fish and aquatic animals die immediately from toxic exposure to pesticides, while others suffer long-term effects such as abnormalities or mutations in developing larvae.

Even manufacturing these chemicals causes harm to the environment.

Currently, there are more than 17,000 pesticides on the market, and when manufactured, transported, and applied, these chemicals emit carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, each of these greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.

The manufacturing of some pesticides also requires the mining of phosphate ore, a practice that not only causes air and water pollution but destroys wildlife habitats in the process. 

Pesticides And Coffee

Nearly 97% of coffee today is grown using conventional methods, meaning it’s treated with chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

In fact, conventional coffee is actually one of the most heavily chemically treated crops in the world!

The global MRL (maximum residue limits) database recently listed 42 pesticides commonly used in growing coffee.

However, this list doesn’t include some extremely harmful pesticides used illegally in some countries.

And, this list also doesn’t account for multiple highly hazardous chemicals such as Dichlorvos (a potential cancer-causer), Cypermethrin, and Terbufos (listed as extremely hazardous), each known to be documented for use in coffee production.

So, not only do many of the countries where coffee is mass-produced have little to no regulations on the use of these chemicals, some of these areas also incorporate the use of banned pesticides, which means these health hazards are still making their way into your cup of joe.

But, what about roasting?

Some believe the roasting process gets rid of pesticides, with roasting temperatures exceeding 450 degrees thought to burn off any pesticide residue.

Unfortunately, recent studies have proven this to simply not be true, as pesticides have been found to actually leech into the green coffee bean, the state of the bean once it’s been processed, washed, and dried, prior to roasting.

So no, these hazardous chemicals aren’t removed simply through the roasting process.

And, when it comes to coffee, as opposed to other foods commonly contaminated with pesticides, one of this beloved brew’s great and healthy qualities actually makes the toxic presence of pesticides even more threatening.

This is because coffee can actually help your cells absorb things more efficiently.

And, when we’re talking about absorbing nutrients, like those commonly found in healthy coffee, this is fantastic!

But, that fabulous factor takes a bad turn when you consider that this ability of coffee remains true regarding the absorption of toxins into your cells as well.

So, if your coffee is loaded with pesticides, this is what your cells are absorbing! And, this is only partly why these chemicals are so detrimental to your health. 

Pesticides And Your Health

Studies conducted by the CDC have revealed that each and every one of us carries pesticides in our bodies.

And unfortunately, the body is able to store pesticides in fat, even in large quantities, prior to their removal by the liver and/or kidneys.

Just an observation here, but perhaps this is why, as a nation, we’re becoming more and more disease-stricken with each passing year?

So, since we’ve learned that conventionally grown coffee is heavily treated with pesticides, and we’ve seen the harm these chemicals can cause on the environment, let’s test that observation and see what kind of effect pesticide consumption (through foods, beverages, etc) has on our bodies.

The greatest effect pesticides seem to have on the body lies in the harm they cause to the nervous system.

And, this isn’t too surprising, knowing these chemicals are made to destroy the nervous system of the insects they initially target.


Organophosphate, a synthetic pesticide, is said to specifically target the nervous system, a chemical that has been banned in some countries due to toxic accidental exposures. This is one of the most concerning pesticides as it is known to deactivate an enzyme needed for healthy nerve function.

Carbamate, another lab-made pesticide, is also known for its detriment to the nervous system, though it is said to be less toxic.

Glyphosate, also known as Roundup, is largely used in GMO crops, and is linked to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease.

 Pesticides can cause short term health problems such as diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, rashes, stinging in the eyes, blisters, and even temporary blindness. These symptoms are often associated with what is referred to as pesticide poisoning.

But, these chemicals have been scientifically linked to even greater health concerns.

One study found the spouses of those individuals who applied pesticides to crops were at a greater risk for developing breast, thyroid, and ovarian cancers, the link thought to be hormonally related due to organophosphate exposure.

And, several studies have seen a link between pesticides and the development of other cancers, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brain tumors, as well as lung, liver, and prostate cancers.

Some research has also shown pesticides to disturb the needed balance of bacteria within the gut.

Without balance here, your immune system cannot function properly, and such dysfunction means your body can’t accurately absorb needed nutrients, regulate blood sugar, or fight off infections.

Pesticides are also known endocrine disruptors.

Within the body, these chemicals, even at extremely low doses, can block or imitate hormones, impacting stress responses, sleep, metabolism, and brain development.

Such chemicals have also been linked to disturbances in the reproductive system resulting in birth defects, stillbirth, miscarriage, sterility, and infertility.

One study found prenatal exposure to pesticides increased the likelihood of autism spectrum disorder.

Researchers have even observed a link between pesticide exposure and an increased risk of
depression and anxiety.

Clearly, pesticides pose a great risk to your health.

And, since conventionally grown coffee greatly incorporates the use of these chemicals, that means your daily cup of joe could be causing more harm than help when it comes to your health.

So, what’s a coffee-lover to do? What kind of coffee should you be drinking to avoid consuming pesticides in your morning (or afternoon) brew? 

Avoid Pesticides With Lifeboost Coffee

Remember when we first delved into the problem with pesticides?

There, we briefly mentioned that pesticides are essentially used to mitigate any loss or damage to crops that need to be grown in mass quantities to meet large demands.

Well, since coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, keeping up with the demand for this beloved bean means that large areas of land are cleared for coffee plantations, where plants are grown in the sun to accelerate the growing process.

When grown at this rate and in these conditions, a greater need arises to curb damage from insects and weeds.

Therefore, as we’ve stated throughout this article, conventional coffee is grown with the use of pesticides (amongst other chemicals, like fertilizers).

Lifeboost coffee, however, is grown in an entirely different way.

Why? Simply put, we wouldn’t want to drink a hot, freshly brewed, cup of pesticides, and we don’t want you to either!

We also greatly value our planet, so we don’t want any harm to come to it from growing our coffee.

This is why Lifeboost is grown on small coffee plantations amongst native plants, negating the need for deforestation.

And, we’re certified organic, ensuring our growing processes won’t harm the environment or you!

We’ve even created a trademarked process, called TrustPure, to ensure every bag of coffee meets the same high standards.

With TrustPure, you can trust that you’re drinking a clean, pure cup of coffee because each bag, each bean, is:

  • Naturally low acid
  • Single origin
  • Grown in the rainforest mountain shade where native plants and animals act as natural pesticides and fertilizers, negating the use of any chemicals in our growing process
  • 3rd party tested for mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, glyphosate, plus 450 other toxins

The use of pesticides in the growing process of many foods and nonfoods (such as coffee) causes harm to our environment and our own health.

But, when choosing Lifeboost, you can rest assured that what you’re enjoying in your mug is free of such harmful chemicals…both for your health and the health of our planet!

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Medium roast

Medical Disclaimer
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Charles Livingston nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.


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