Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and we all love to receive flowers -- especially red roses. We love their heavenly scent, and we love the color they add to our desks at work and to our kitchens at home. But we don’t often stop tothink about the source of those flowers we love so much.Many of us do think about the chocolates we buy and consume on Valentine’s Day. We look for ethical sources of chocolate, and we might even choose something like delicious direct trade chocolates from companies like Taza. Yet somehow flowers often escape our radars.
I spent three years living in Ecuador, and while I was there, I went inside some of
the rose plantations that produce the vast majority of the roses we see here in
the United States. Two-thirds of the workers in the rose plantations are women,
and they work with pesticides on a daily basis. Around Valentine’s Day and
Mother’s Day each year, the rose plantation employees often work 80-hour
weeks with no overtime pay. They don’t have a union to represent their interests,
and one employee told me in 2008 that most workers don’t last more than two
years on the job before they become sick or have a miscarriage as a result of
their contact with the pesticides.
Poor labor practices, dangerous pesticides, and environmental abuse.
Not exactly romantic, huh?
The good news is, industry is starting to understand that we consumers do care a great deal about environmental and labor standards – even when it comes to flowers. Through the power of Citizen Commerce, which is at the heart of everything we do at Daily Grommet, we can send a very clear message this Valentine’s Day by supporting rose plantations that are producing fair trade flowers. Nevado Farms in Ecuador is leading the way. A section of their farm even produces certified organic roses.
Who cares about whether or not roses are certified organic? I do! One of my
favorite things to do with my roses when their glory starts to fade is to put them in
my bathwater. And I certainly don’t want to bathe in pesticides of any kind. Also,
if your roses are certified organic, you can feel safe about sugaring the petals to
use as cake decorations.
Today when I buy flowers, I look for ones that reflect my values and beliefs. I
support those flower farms that are doing the right thing for the environment and
for their workers. I do my homework and look for flowers that have been certified
Fair Trade or by VeriFlora. There are other certifying bodies out there, but some of them have competing interests that raise questions in my mind and cause me to steer clear.
I expect to pay a bit of a premium for these “greener” roses, but I know that I’m
doing what feels right to me. I also know that prices will continue to go down as
more people start buying these kinds of roses! And you know what? It’s already
getting easier and easier to find Fair Trade and VeriFlora flowers these days.
Supermarket chains such as Giant, ShopRite, Whole Foods, and Stop & Shop
offer them to their customers. Even One World Flowers and Sam’s Club offer
them online! With just a small amount of research, I have no doubt that you’ll be
able to find some in your area. If you can’t find any (or if you just want to go more
local this Valentine’s Day), why not pay a visit to your local farmers market to see
what kind of alternative bouquet of fruits, vegetables, and other goodies you can
Happy Valentine’s Day!
P.S. Have you entered our Valentine’s Day giveaway yet? It ends today!