Do certification labels really matter?

As consumers grow weary over subpar food regulations at the federal level, manufacturers are increasingly seeking ways to help shoppers distinguish their products from the sea of conventional (and often irresponsibly produced) items. Certification labels—sometimes referred to as eco labels—are skyrocketing in popularity. Among the most ubiquitous? Certified Organic, Fair Trade, Non-GMO Project, and Gluten Free. But while certifications signal something to the consumer, do they actually have tangible benefits for the farmers who grow the raw materials?

Chances are you have also seen the Rainforest Alliance Certified logo—characterized by a little green frog—on packages of natural chocolates, coffee, tea, or fruit juices. But what exactly does the logo mean? And how does it differ from the wealth of other eco labels available?

After researching the stipulations involved with the Rainforest Alliance Certification, it was time to venture into the belly of the beast and see the positive changes, if any, gleaned from sustainable agricultural methods first hand.

Destination? Guatemala.

Crop? Coffee.

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