‘Tis the season for celebrations from graduations to weddings. And all around us to adorn the scene are beautiful flowers. I love flowers – they’re so bright, and they can coax a smile on the worst of days.
As a society, we’re getting used to asking where our food comes from, but often, we don’t give much thought to where our flowers come from – we head out to the nearest big box store or supermarket to pick them up for a low price. When we head to the florist, we don’t ask where the supply comes from, or whether the flowers are organic. We’re just shopping visually.
Why is it important to ask questions? Flowers are a big business: according to USA Today, in 2005 the U.S. floriculture market made up $19.5 billion in sales. Because flowers are a high value crop, they tend to be protected by a lot of pesticide. Additionally, the Environmental News Network stated that, “a 1997 report by the Environmental Working Group found that commercially grown roses contained 1,000 times the amount of cancer causing pesticides when compared with food products.” Organically grown flowers are healthier for workers and avoid delivering toxic chemicals to the recipient.
But, fear not. Fortunately, with the farmers’ markets in season, you can get some locally grown flowers to adorn your table, and possibly even your salad. Locally grown flowers that are produced within season will travel less (they’re not coming from Central or South America), require less energy in transportation, provide local jobs and will overall be a fresher product. And many locally grown flowers will be grown with fewer to no pesticides. Just ask your farmer. (I received a stunning bouquet from Poplar Ridge Farm this week – you can buy flowers on the organic farm on Wednesdays from 2-6pm at their market stand.)
And if you want to have some fun, you can grow your own edible flowers from seed. You may have noticed my Heartsease (viola tricolor, a.k.a. Johnny Jump-Ups) around the blog. But you can also check out nasturtiums, calendula, marigolds, and sunflowers. Try them in your salad mixes, or as decoration on your cakes or cupcakes! (I’ve got some new seeds on the way from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and will post pictures when I get them going in a few weeks.)
Enjoy these months of celebration. And know that you’ve got good, healthy, local options not only when it comes to food, but flowers, too!