Say it with Organic Flowers
by Jasmin Malik Chua
Around 70 percent of flowers sold in the United States are imported, according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. And talk about tainted love: Commercial flowers produced in countries such as Colombia and Ecuador are sprayed with highly toxic pesticides, fungicides, and fumigants - 20 percent of which are banned in North America for being extremely carcinogenic - in order to maintain their fresh, unblemished appearances.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of Columbian and Ecuadorian workers suffer from problems associated with pesticide exposure, including nausea, conjunctivitis, neurological disease, reproductive problems, and birth defects.
Plus, the International Labor Organization estimates that 20 percent of flower workers in Ecuador are children, who are even more vulnerable to hazards these chemicals pose. Let's also not forget the environmental toll of producing those seemingly innocuous-looking posies, including the energy requirements of flying or trucking them across distances.
But even if you buy your blossoms States-side, flowers grown with conventional methods can contaminate groundwater and streams through fertilizer and pesticide run-off, with deleterious effects on wildlife and human health.
Say it, then, with organic and pesticide-free flowers. Online retailers such as California Organic Flowers, Diamond Organics, Organic Bouquet, and Organic Style, offer U.S.Department of Agriculture-certified organic blooms - purchased from American family farmers and certified-organic farms abroad - you can ship all across the country.
A few markets, including Trader Joe's and Safeway, have also started carrying flowers that are certified sustainably grown by VeriFlora. You can also support your local farms by locating an organic-flower grower near you through Local Harvest.
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