Amy Stewart went behind the scenes to find out what it takes to get cut flowers from the field to your vase. And it’s a lot of work, on the part of the growers, a lot of coordination among the auctioneers and distributors, and then survival skills for both the flowers and the florists.
Buying cut flowers is a growing business. So much coordination has to happen. Everyone has to be prepared for special events, like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Diseases can still ruin flowers.
Stewart covers the path that the flowers take by examining companies and talking to people involved in all the cycle of breeding, growing, distribution, and selling.
These are some interesting facts that I found out about cut flowers:
- Breeders are working hard to create a blue rose. Geneticists have already produced a green rose.
- 75% of the flowers sold in the
U.S.come from Latin America
- Flowers in
Europecome with different certifications, to denote organic growing methods and high quality. Some of the bouquets sold in U.S.supermarkets wouldn’t even sold AT ALL in any flower market in Europe.
- Placing bouquets next to cheese or fruits shortens the life of flowers. Ethylene is the culprit.
- Organic certification programs can actually result in cost savings. Growers use fewer pesticides and better worker benefits mean higher levels of retention.
- Some florists dye flowers in strange colors. The dye is absorbed in the stems.
is a big market for this. Glitter can also be applied to flowers. Japan
- Viagra can extend the life of a flower.
Stewart made witty observations in her travels. On her way to Cayambe, Columbia, to visit a grower, she notes: “Once or twice the road swerved across the equator; each time the (tour bus) driver would point it out to me, and I’d imagine a bright orange dotted line draped over the landscape, like the one on my globe at home…that I was traveling on a tight thin line that held all the emerging flower growers together…”
Stewart really loves cut flowers, but seeing the distribution process in Miami and thinking about the organic certification process makes her realize that “…once flowers begin their final leg of their journey to the consumer, they lose their identity. They blur together in a sea of petals and leaves…all massed together, that flowers seemed to me for the first time to be utterly faceless, anonymous. If it seems like flowers have lost their souls in this process, well, they have. There’s nothing romantic or sentimental about toxic pesticides and underpaid workers. “Green label” flower certification programs, which establish standards for the reduction of pesticides and other chemical, conservation of natural resources, worker safety, and labor rights, represent the best hope flowers have of winning back their souls, their purity.”
Stewart also provided address and websites of the places that she visited, so you can do your own research. She prepared charts and an extensive Notes section.
I learned a lot of interesting things about this industry. I had no idea how immense it was. I prefer flowers from the garden. However, I have the luxury of being able to have a garden. When I lived in a small apartment in
I did test out one of her facts. Breeders told Stewart that most cut flowers have no scent. I suppose that this trait is not a strong, so it’s one of the first flower traits to be discarded. I went to a supermarket last night and sniffed. It’s really true.