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Organic is Best for Flower Bouquets, Too!

Organic is Best for Flower Bouquets, Too


How “fresh” can most cut flowers for sale be, given the amount of pesticides  and fungicides (up to 50 times as much as can be used on food crops)  used to grow them? There’s also the fact that the vast majority (around 80  percent) of cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported from far away, often from  countries like Columbia and Ecuador.

If you are not inclined to grow flowers yourself using chemical-free methods,  it’s more than worth it to consider getting sustainably grown flowers. These have been reared  without synthetic, toxic substances and by workers who are paid a fair wage for  raising them. Instead of pesticides, growers can use predatory mites to kill  spider mites and thrips that damage petals and leaves. Instead of being shipped  to you in mounds of styrofoam and plastic packaging, flowers from retailers  seeking to meet eco-standards come to you in biodegradable, green materials.

The Fair  Trade and Veriflora  labels can help you figure out which flowers were raised using sustainable  practices. Flowers with Fair  Trade and/or Veriflora  certification come from farms that have been audited to ensure they follow  strict environmental and labor standards. For instance, in recognition of the  discrimination women in the flower industry often experience, Fair Trade requires that farms provide employee benefits,  including twelve weeks of paid maternity leave and child care.

Fair Trade’s and Veriflora’s certification do not, however, require  flowers to be fully organic. The label USDA Organic certifies that flowers have been grown without  toxic or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Some online suppliers for organic  flowers are listed at Organic Gardening; also check out Local Harvest to find growers and retailers in your  area.

Another factor to keep in mind in seeking out sustainably grown flowers is  the issue of energy efficiency. Smaller amounts of flowers grown locally in a  heated greenhouse and then transported to various farmers’ markets in a pickup  truck do not have an automatic eco-advantage over large loads of flowers  transported by more energy efficient means. In addition, as the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) points out, the  flower industry has an important role in the economies of some Latin American  countries. Our buying flowers from farms certified by entities like Fair  Trade and Veriflora can help to push for better regulations to protect workers’ rights and health.

Fresh flowers are routinely associated with spring. Locally grown, organic flowers comprise only a tiny percentage of the huge  business in cut flowers, but by seeking “green flowers” out, you can support  growers and florists who are trying to make a difference and do what’s right for the  planet. If you’re not giving flowers with the dirt, why not make sure a bouquet is  beautiful through and through, down to the very methods and substances used in  growing it?

By Kristina Chew

Photo from Thinkstock


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