Why buy locally grown flowers?
You can get flowers anywhere: at the grocery, online, from a florist, the pharmacy, and even gas stations. Why buy locally grown organic flowers? Let’s investigate a little…
Over 80% of our flowers are imported from other countries; typically central and South America. The flowers have to travel by air to get to the states fast enough to be distributed to wholesalers and big retailers, who then sell them to smaller retailers and finally consumers. That’s a lot of mileage when you consider nearly all of these flower varieties can be grown closer to home for less jet fuel. We don’t even use jet fuel for our flowers 😉
Each of those countries we import from have different laws and regulations regarding pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, most of which are far lax compared to the U.S. As many of you know, the U.S. also has laws and regulations on domestic uses of pesticides and fertilizers, but absolutely none of them apply to imported flowers. The USDA inspects for pests coming in on floral imports, but does not inspect for pesticides, herbicides or chemical residues. In addition, floral companies in central and S. America (some of which are U.S. owned/operated) all have their own different standards for chemical usage on floral products. It is a self-regulated industry there, and farms may or may not choose to participate in chemical or personal safety practices (fewer than half do). There is a long list of chemicals the farm laborers on these foreign grow sites have to endure. For example, one study in Columbia found up to 127 different toxic chemicals the workers were exposed to. These chemical laden flowers are then shipped here, where florists are exposed to the same high levels, as are the consumers who buy them.
Back to the original question of why buy locally grown flowers; it’s really a smart, common sense two-part answer. First, the transportation costs are much lower in time, fuels and overall carbon footprint. Second, to avoid contact with what our own National Institute of Health (NIH) considers “a unique professional situation [where people] are exposed regularly to a very high level of toxic chemicals and rather high concentration levels”. Besides, beautiful flowers should be a joy to have, not a source of health concern. After all, flowers are the language of love!
If you’d like to learn more, check out the links below: