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I'm Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network. Instinctively everybody loves flowers. They look so sweet. Smell so sweet.

"Flowers carry with them a connotation of purity. And when people realize those flowers are grown with artillery of toxic chemicals, it turns people off." said Gerald Prolman.

The story after this Blue Cross-Blue Shield.

Cut flowers are beautiful but they hide a terrible secret. To make them perfect they require tons of pesticides. This bothered Gerald Prolman, a longtime organic advocate and businessman.

"I wanted to start a business that would generate positive social and environmental change. And I recognized flowers as a category had been totally overlooked by the natural product sector." said Prolman.

That could be because we don't eat flowers. But heavy pesticide use has a real impact. Workers can be exposed to dangerous levels of chemicals. And pesticides pollute the air and water. So Prolman founded a company called Organic Bouquet in Northern California.

"When I began this company, there was no commercial supplies of organic flowers to service a national market. Now we have growers growing with sustainable methods in over 5 countries." said Prolman.

But it's been a struggle. Growers in the $20 billion flower industry saw going organic as a risk.

"So we stepped in and said we'll buy 100 percent of crop not only this year but we'll buy it for the next 3 years. So basically we took the market risk and they took the agricultural risk." said Prolman.

It took Prolman five years to cultivate his suppliers. Now he's working on getting more customers to understand.

"In the very same way that organic produce began as a niche and now it's a multi-billion industry believe that the same thing is happening with flowers." said Prolman.

The Osgood File. I'm Charles Osgood for the C*B*S Radio Network
The Osgood File. November 24, 2006

Originally broadcast on The Osgood File. November 24, 2006

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