Flowers from local florists often come from local farms, and like food, there is a growing band of healthy flower farmers who grow flowers that suit local conditions, in season and pesticide free. Many of these 'farmers' run micro farms and some are even florists themselves. If that sounds a bit over the top - really, they are just flowers, right - then you are in for a small surprise.
The is actually a pretty long list of reasons that local, in season, chemical free flowers are a way better idea. I am going to explain why by telling you the story of why the opposite is so bad.
Flower nirvana days like Valentine's Day and Mother's day see a proliferation of flowers everywhere. When you stop to think about it, how so many flowers appear so suddenly is an interesting question. Well it turns out that for many flower sellers, Mother's and Valentine's Day is a marketing exercise that is not really about love at all.Flowers are about money, especially supermarket flowers - so much money that the global cut flower industry matches the GDP of several countries.
The flower industry is a money machine. When there is that much money involved, people start to behave badly. And the cut-flower industry is no different. Cut-flowers are all about chemicals and because you don't eat them, no one really cares and they are largely unregulated. But you should care. The mass cut-flower industry is a short-cycle production process that requires the extensive use of agrochemicals which have a negative effect on the air, soil and water supply. Imported cut flowers are also about travel air miles.
SO THE FIRST TWO PROBLEMS ARE RELATED. ALONG WITH INTERNATIONAL AIR TRAVEL COMES CHEMICALS - TO KEEP FLOWERS ALIVE AND FOR FUMIGATION REQUIRED TO ENTER AUSTRALIA. IMPORTED CUT FLOWERS ARE LITERALLY LADEN WITH UNANNOUNCED CHEMICALS AT EVERY STAGE OF THEIR 'LIFE'.
The world's biggest producers of mass market flowers are increasingly low labour cost, good climate countries like Colombia, Kenya, Ecuador and Ethiopia.
Like me, your first instincts might be that this is a good thing because jobs are going to those who need them most. The problem is not the labour, but the mass destruction of the country's natural resources, the replacement of food crops and ultimate ability to keep those same people healthy.
One reason is the high chemical use in the production of flowers and there is also the high use of water. To put this in perspective, half the water from Lake Naivasha in Kenya is used for the Kenyan floriculture industry. Half! Eventually you have to stop and ask whether the water, chemicals, land, air-miles and carbon footprint used for the week's life or cut-flowers wouldn’t be better used elsewhere?
If you are going to give flowers on Mother's, Valentine's Day or any special occasion, try and give low mileage, local flowers and support both a local grower a lower emissions footprint, less toxins and your own health. There are more and more totally gorgeous florists and farmers around who specialise in local flowers like Flowers at the Farm at Byron Bay or Good Hope Blooms.
Or pick flowers some from your garden. A friend of mine met her future husband when he caught her stealing flowers from his front garden. (Not that I am advocating that kind of behaviour... ♥) Or give an interesting pot plant with herbs and use them to cook dinner together.
Make your own flowers together by doing a workshop with someone like Succulent Sisters. Alternatively, send Doggo the heart melter with a single flower and go to dinner.