Before you send your sweetheart a romantic bouquet of flowers, think about sending organic flowers instead. Most flowers are grown with highly toxic chemicals. Even the floral foam used in floral arrangements contains toxic elements; there is an appalling lack of toxicity regulation in the flower industry. Colombia, the world’s second largest flower exporter after the Netherlands, douses the plants in pesticides to prevent diseases and blemishes. During peak season, the workers (many of whom are single mothers and even children) work long hours with low wages and a steady exposure to herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. Many suffer work related health issues as a result. The soil and the ground water are contaminated and the soil is depleted of biology. Flowers grown in the US are partially regulated by the EPA, mostly concerning the safety issues for the growers. The possible dangers, including allergic reactions, from chemical residues on flowers passed onto consumers however, are not addressed.
The market is growing for organic flowers – the more the demand, of course the more available they will become. With each purchase, you know you are helping the life of a floral farm worker. Visit organicbouquet.com, which according to the Sierra Club, is a carbon-neutral company that not only sells pesticide-free flowers but also gives their workers in underdeveloped countries zero-interest loans, healthcare, and education. Another option, if possible, buy seasonal flowers from a farmer’s market, pick them from your garden or consider a potted plant. Potted orchids are a lovely Valentine’s Day gift.
My favorite Valentine’s gift is chocolate and happily the health benefits of dark chocolate are becoming well-known. Besides tasting delicious, dark chocolate, which is at least 65% cocoa, contains a large number of antioxidants, nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries. The flavonoids help relax blood pressure, have been shown to lower cholesterol by up to 10%, may protect arteries from damage and fend off heart disease. Dark chocolate stimulates endorphin production, or the feel good hormones, and contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant. It may even help with tooth decay. Like coffee, it contains caffeine, a natural stimulant.
This year, get your Valentines organic, fair trade chocolate… Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carry lots of varieties, and I noticed CVS carries some too. Dark chocolate still contains sugar and fat, so indulge moderately! (Unfortunately, milk and white chocolate do not contain the same benefits.) Yes, even Valentine’s Day can be green!
Some information compiled from greenamerica.org and sierraclub.org