Where Do Flowers Come From?

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Did you know that Mother’s Day accounts for one-fourth of the floral purchases made for holidays? More than a third (35%) of adults (37% of men; 34% of women) bought flowers or plants as gifts for Mother’s Day 2011. That sure is a lot of flower picking.

Wonder where all those pretty blooms come from?

Just like fruits and veggies, many cut flowers have pesticides. So before you put you take a deep whiff of that bouquet (or let your children do that), keep this in mind…

Most cut flowers from flowers shops in Canada and the US come from Columbia and Ecuador and, according to the Washington, DC-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), an advocacy organization aimed at establishing just and humane treatment of workers around the world, workers on some flower farms in Colombia and Ecuador are regularly exposed to toxic chemicals that have been linked to respiratory problems, rashes, miscarriages, premature births, and congenital malformations. 

A 2004 report by Oxfam found that some flower companies use more than 30 different pesticides, while an International Labor Organization survey found that only 22% of Ecuadorian flower companies train their workers in the proper use of chemicals. Therefore, all these workers are being exposed daily to carcinogenic chemicals so that we can have a dozen roses on our kitchen table. Definitely, something to consider, don’t you think?

And although those who work in the industry are at greatest risk of suffering negative health effects from pesticides, consumers need to be aware of the potential consequences as well. When you sniff those roses, you could be inhaling toxic fumes. Unlike fruits and veggies, most of which are washed before handling, flowers are not. So you are constantly exposing yourself and your family to the chemicals that have been used on them.

Although, we can’t avoid chemicals altogether, we can be more aware of our decisions and purchases to reduce exposure. We also don’t want to stop enjoying beautiful flowers in our homes. But there are ways to have flowers in your home naturally. Here are some tips:

· Look for flowers that carry a label such as Veriflora, Fairtrade, or Fair Flowers Fair Plants.

· Tell your flower retailer that you care about what products they carry and share your desire for sustainable, environmentally friendly, fair trade flowers.

· Support organic, locally grown flowers by looking for such products at farms or farmers’ markets.

· Plant your own garden. Planting a garden with your children can be a learning experience and teaching opportunity.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!

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May 2012
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