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The Best Way to Share the Love this Valentine's Day? Buy Organic Flowers

by Jaquelyn Lane

Of the approximately $20 billion a year Americans spend on flowers, less than one percent accounts for the sales of organic varieties. Surprisingly, in this age of booming natural-product sales, organic flowers suffer from lack of demand. Unlike organic edibles, which have gotten a major leg up in the market thanks to public concerns over ingested pesticides, organic flowers are not demonstrably safer for the consumer than their conventionally grown counterparts. Still, if you've never purchased an organic bouquet before, there's good reason to consider it for this Valentine's Day.

Organic flowers, just like organic food crops, are grown without the use of chemical pesticides. This is great news for the environment, but it's even bigger news for floral workers. According to a 2002 study printed in Environmental Health Perspectives, worker exposure to pesticides is of particular concern in greenhouses, where up to 127 chemicals may be used. Also, the vast majority of flowers sold in the U.S. are grown overseas—70 percent in Columbia and Ecuador alone—where the rules regarding pesticide regulation and worker safety are more lax. In Ecuador, nearly 60 percent of floral workers surveyed manifested symptoms of poisoning, including headaches, dizziness, hand trembling and blurred vision.

Thankfully, purchasing organic flowers has become easier. Organic bouquet ( organicbouquet.com), established in 2001, is the world's first online organic florist. Its owner, Gerald Prolman, saw a need for responsible standards that would help build the industry, and has since pioneered the Veriflora certification program, which, in addition to requiring growers to implement organic agricultural practices, addresses water conservation, waste management, and fair labor standards. Veriflora growers may use small amounts of low-impact chemicals, so they are not certified organic by the USDA. However, Organic Bouquet does carry USDA-certified flowers under the lables "Organic" and "Biodynamic."

Online organic flower retailers are few and far between. Organic bouquet is the largest; others include Diamond Organics (diamondorganics.com) and CaliforniaOrganicFlowers.com. Don't neglect your local farmers market, however. A small, but significant, percentage of organic flowers are grown on family farms in the United States. Check out LocalHarvest (localharvest.org/organic-flowers.jsp), which maintains a directory of small farms in the U.S. that may sell organic blooms. Just keep in mind, if it doesn't carry the word "Organic" on the label, it's not certified organic by the USDA; be sure to ask how flowers are grown before you but them.

Originally printed in the February 2006 issue of Plenty



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Sustainable Flowers Make The Perfect Gift For All Occasions

Organic Bouquet is the largest online provider of eco-friendly and organic floral gifts. All of our flowers are grown in a manner that is not only environmentally friendly but also provides outstanding resources for farm workers and artisans. Organic Bouquet partners with select flower farms in California, Ecuador and Colombia. All of our flower farms follow stringent growing practices which are monitored by multiple certification agencies and associations. When you purchase flowers from Organic Bouquet, you are helping to improve the life of a flower farm worker, their family and the local floral community.

Our eco-friendly flower arrangements include roses, calla lilies, tulips, gerbera daisies, hyacinths, sunflowers, alstromeria lilies and blue iris. In addition to a complete line of flower arrangements, we offer gift baskets, fruit baskets, nut baskets, gourmet chocolates, gourmet cookies, plants and  wreaths. All of these products are certified eco-friendly and/or provide for environmental benefits through our participation in Carbon Offset programs.

Whatever the occasion, our flowers make the perfect gift- birthday celebration flowers, anniversary flowers, holiday flowers, or floral arrangements simply to say thank you. Sending flowers from Organic Bouquet says that you care not only about the person receiving the flowers, but also about the environment. All of our gift items are shipped nationwide to all 50 states. So whether you need to send flowers to Florida, New York, California, or Colorado, we can guarantee overnight delivery to ensure they arrive fresh and ready to put a smile on someone’s face.

Whether you are purchasing online, or through one of our customer service specialists, you can be assured you are ordering the freshest quality of flowers and environmentally friendly gifts.