Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to think about finding better sources for flower bouquets. Most of the beautiful bouquets we buy in the US are imported, and that means they come with surprisingly bad environmental and social pedigrees.
Something like 80% of all cut flowers sold in the US are grown in South America and travel thousands of miles before you ever see them. As many as 97% of Valentine’s Day roses will be imported. US Customs requires imported flowers to be pest-free, in order to protect US agriculture from pests that local crops have not adapted to. To ensure they are not carrying unwelcome pests, most cut flowers arrive saturated with up to 50 times the pesticides and fungicides permitted on food crops. Often, these include chemicals that are banned in the US, but not regulated in flower-exporting countries.
That’s probably not what you want to send your Valentine! Fortunately, there’s a growing movement, echoing our demand for local and organic foods, to help us find and buy locally grown and sustainably produced flowers. It’s less developed than the food distribution systems, but we’ve found some reliable sources.
Best known as a resource for finding local farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, and organic food related businesses, Local Harvest also offers a terrific directory of local and organic flower growers. The flowers grown by Local Harvest family farmers are fresher than imported flowers, healthier for the people who grow them and the people who receive them, and healthier for our environment.
Veriflora certifies that the flower growers, distributors and florists it approves offer “only the highest quality products, produced with rigorous environmental accountability, … addressing the health and well-being of workers, their families and communities.” The program is administered by a global third-party certifier of environmental, sustainability and agricultural product quality claims:
- establishing significant greenhouse gas reduction and energy efficiency goals,
- requiring growers to develop a plan for converting to organic pest management and soil fertility practices,
- steering farmers away from potentially harmful agrochemical usage,
- offering extensive ecosystem, water quality protection, and resource conservation measures, and
- it applies to everyone in the supply chain, including not only growers, but shippers, distributors, and retailers as well.
Slow Flowers is a directory for finding local flower growers. Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers’s founder, is a woman on a mission to help restore American floral agriculture. Her listings are not necessarily organic farms, but they most likely have a much lighter environmental and social footprint than your average bouquet.
If you can’t find a local source, Organic Bouquet will ship you beautiful, sustainably grown bouquets. They deliver gorgeous flowers and support development of a more robust system for the sustainable cut-flower industry.
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