A rose is a rose even when toxic
BOGOTA, Colombia (Feb. 13) - It's probably the last thing most people think about when buying roses - by the time the bright, velvety flowers reach your Valentine, they will have been sprayed, rinsed and dipped in a battery of potentially lethal chemicals.(My emphasis of course - finish reading the article here.)
Most of the toxic assault takes place in the waterlogged savannah surrounding the capital of Colombia, the world's second-largest cut-flower producer after the Netherlands. It produces 62 percent of all flowers sold in the United States.
With 110,000 employees - many of them single mothers - and annual exports of $1 billion, the industry provides an important alternative to growing coca, source crop of the Andean nation's better known illegal export: Cocaine. But these economic gains come at a cost to workers' health and Colombia's environment, according to consumer advocates.
The U.S. requires imported flowers to be bug-free, but unlike edible fruits and vegetables they are not tested for chemical residues.
And what's the easiest way to get your buds bug-free? Pesticides! Of course the article goes on to say that the South American flower farmers need to keep up with the competition on other continents, and flowers are a big export to America and they really need the cash.
But at what price? Workers in these flower farms are getting sick because of this practice (even though "Causal links between chemicals and individual illnesses are hard to prove because chronic pesticide exposure has not been studied in enough detail.") This is not new news. It has been documented for years, however it is nice to see it exposed in the mainstream media. (Atlhough I doubt that a blockbuster movie about flower growers in Bogota is in the works...)
I'd say hold off on your flower purchase until your local growing season, and then buy from your local farmers markets or as straight to the source as you can go.