By Christina Cullen, Rainforest Alliance

Ask a restaurant’s sommelier about the origins of the wine they are serving and they’ll be able to tell you about the individual grapes. But can a barista do the same and describe how the coffee bean or tea leaf made it from the farm to the cup?

With the Earth’s resources rapidly depleting, combined with an ever-increasing consumer demand to know where and how our food is sourced, dialogue between consumers, businesses and farms has never been more important.

By offering a sustainable option on the beverage menu – be it coffee, tea or hot chocolate – restaurateurs can not only address their own social responsibilities, learning about how, where and why sustainable farming is important; but also take this to their customers.

More and more consumers want the ethical option, but by telling customers about the difference their choice has just made to the environment and to the farmer who farmed the product takes the dining-out experience to an entirely different level.

Using more fresh water and destroying more forests than any other activity, agriculture is top of the list when it comes to harming the planet. This is where certification schemes such as the Rainforest Alliance can make a drastic difference and change industries, allowing businesses to prosper at the same time as helping to protect the environment and the rights of workers and their families.

The green frog seal that represents the Rainforest Alliance certification programme can be found on products that contain ingredients that have come from farms that have met the strict standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). The SAN standards help to protect farm workers and wildlife, conserve natural resources, and support the financial viability of farms. Since 1992, more than one million farms – small, medium, large and cooperatives – around the world have met the SAN standards. The standards are reviewed and updated every five years to ensure they are able to meet the needs and challenges of a robust and growing certification system that is already operating in more than 40 countries and covers over 100 different crops.

Ultimately we are on a sustainable journey – right across the supply chain – from farmer to consumer. Each component has its part to play in ensuring that we create a more sustainable global economy. From educating the farmer to farm smarter, to engaging with businesses to examine their green credentials, to influencing consumers to make the right choices.

With farmers wanting to ensure that their children have a future livelihood, and consumers thinking more about the food they consume, businesses have the important role of bringing the two together. This role is one of power: the power to make a difference to the environment, the farmer and the consumer; and the power to increase the bottom line.

For more information about the Rainforest Alliance, visit: www.rainforest-alliance.org or read their blog: www.thefrogblog.org.uk. You can also follow them on Twitter @RnfrstAll_UK.