Back around Valentines' day, when all things flowery were on my mind, I wrote a post that included some alarming statistics about the cost of all things flowery that showed up on The Worsted Witch, self-described "card-carrying environmentalist." She posted:
"Seventy percent of flowers sold in the U.S. are imported, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Commercial flowers produced in countries such as Colombia and Ecuador are sprayed with highly toxic pesticides, fungicides, and fumigants—20 percent of which are banned in the U.S. and Canada for being extremely carcinogenic—in order to maintain their fresh, unblemished appearances."
While I'm eating local this month, I have also made a commitment to buy locally-grown flowers.
At my local farmers' market this past week, I was lucky enough to come across a lilac farmer from Gorman, CA. As a special treat, my better half purchased me not one, not two, but three (!) beautiful, bountiful bunches of white lilacs. I learned by listening to the Market Report on KCRW's Good Food last week that some lilacs available at the Southern California markets are actually wildcrafted.
The prior week, received a bunch of tulips from two great friends of
mine. These were sent directly from Northern California via OrganicBouquet.com,
which fits my local campaign, since my challenge is sourcing from
California. (Well, they were sent a little before 1 May, but still.)
The difference I noticed between these flowers and those bought commerically are significant:
- The scent. It is now seven days later and our house still smells like lilac when we come in the door.
- The longevity. The tulips lasted for eight days, during which they were actually alive with life, bending toward the windows into lovely arcs. After seven days, I've lost one bunch of lilacs, which will be mulched up by our city, but I still have two abundant branches bursting out of my favorite antique vase given to me by my mother.
- The realism. Obviously, store-bought and locally-purchased flora are both real in the most literal sense of the word, but these flowers truly made me feel like they were from a real garden. The tulips arrived with specks of soil still attached. The lilac stems were already hammered to ensure long-life and the farmer told me to make sure I put them outside at night to make them last even longer. Each bunch didn't bring to me that artificial sensation that flowers from the supermarket often have. They told a story.
In 2004, according to the Association of Floral Importers of Florida, the floriculture market was valued $18 billion and 26% of flowers were purchased at a supermarket. Just imagine if we could give a little bit of that market value to our local farmers.
This is mipmup's second time participating in the Eat Local Challenge. Her challenge is sourcing from California. Read her personal blog at mipmup.com or visit her at BlogHer, where she is contributing editor for Health and Wellness. mipmup is eating local in Los Angeles, where she prepares vegan fare for herself and omnivore plates for her better half.