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Chocolate SSC: The Good Valentine

by Aysha Hussain
National Geographic Green Guide

This Valentine's Day show that special someone how fortunate you feel with the help of cupid's arrow. Rather than buy your loved one conventional chocolates from plantations that still use child labor or a pesticide-laden bouquet of flowers, aim for gifts that favor the earth. There's no better way to say "I love you."

Flowers

The sweet aroma of fresh cut flowers might be masking darker circumstances. Flower growers often endure poor working conditions, suffering from serious pesticide-related health problems such as impaired vision, asthma and even miscarriage, and many times, their children suffer too. In countries like Columbia and Ecuador, from where the U.S. imports 70 percent of its flowers, the children of female workers have suffered from prenatal pesticide exposures that led to low birth weights and smaller head circumferences (see "Rose, Art Thou Sick?").

As with any agricultural product, try buying locally grown flowers before heading to the store; see www.localharvest.org for growers in your area. Where local options don't exist, choose organically grown flowers, those certified by Scientific Certification System's (SCS) VeriFlora label or Transfair Fair-Trade certified bouquets.

Along with requiring organic farming practices, VeriFlora stresses ecosystem protection, energy and packaging minimization, and fair labor and community development practices. Small farmer organizations certified by Transfair's Fair Trade follow environvironmentally friendly practices and sell directly to international buyers, helping to sustain their local economies.

If conventional cut flowers are a last resort, be aware than chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide associated with long-term neurological damage, headaches, blurred vision and loss of consciousness, is commonly used on flowers. Therefore, always wash your hands after handling them.

Fair-Trade flowers: 1-800-flowers.com sweetheart roses ($39.99/36 stems; 1800flowers.com)

Veriflora-certified Flowers: Organic Bouque classic red roses ($49.95/dozen; www.organicbouquet.com, 877-899-2468); The Sun Valley Group (www.thesunvalleygroup.com, 800-747-0396) and Nevado Ecuador (www.nevadoecuador.com).

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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.