Before picking up the phone or surfing over to UltraGiantMegaFlorist.com to order roses for Mother's Day this year, think about this: Cut flowers may contain up to 50 times the pesticides and fungicides permitted on food crops. Those blooms may have been imported from countries with lax environmental regulations, and, since imported flowers are required to be pest-free, they may be saturated with chemicals before reaching your local florist. In 2008, the majority of reported pesticide poisonings California occurred on rose farms. Health risks for field workers include blurred vision, nausea, and miscarriage.
Luckily, you're a gardener, so you can grow your own chemical-free bouquets at least part of the year. And some national retail chains (including Whole Foods, Safeway, and Trader Joe's) now offer flowers certified by VeriFlora, signifying that growers meet standards for environmental sustainability, social and economic fairness, and product integrity.
When it comes to shipping blooms long distance, however, there's an art to packaging them so they reach the recipient in vase-worthy condition. That's where the following online retailers can help. They all offer organic and/or sustainably produced selections.
California Organic Flowers
530-891-6265 Choose from single bouquets or larger packages for a wedding or party. Flowers are certified USDA Organic
877-524-5400 Not all flowers listed on this site are organic, but all are VeriFlora certified.
877-899-2468 Offers cut flowers in bouquets or bulk boxes for D-I-Y arrangements. All flowers are sustainably grown and certified Organic or VeriFlora.
Or search Local Harvest to find an organic florist near you.
For more hair-raising facts about the cut-flower industry, check out Flower Confidential, by Amy Stewart (Algonquin Books, 2007).