Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Seed to Sprout to Bud to Flower

What is the first thing you do when you see a beautiful bouquet of flowers?
What do you instinctually do?
Most people lean in, and take that deep inhale, trying to drink in the smell of the beautiful flowers they see.
Have you ever craved that smell of flowers? The fresh cut "green" smell, the gentle scent of a opening, ripe bud, or the heady perfume of an open blossom?
I am reading this incredibly interesting book called Flower Confidential, that my brother Peter sent me in the mail. It is written about the floral industry. As a former floral designer, I knew some of its main points, like the outsourcing of all the roses to South America, and that the rest of the flowers usually come off the Dutch market. But the detail to which it all happens is just fascinating. For instance, did you know that the floral industry is a $40 billion dollar-a-year business? I had no idea. I mean, I've been to the wholesalers in Maryland, D.C. and in New York. I've seen the open warehouses jammed packed with every variety and type of flower imaginable. I understand why the business is $40 billion dollars a year. The author makes the point that it is difficult to keep money in your pocket as you peruse those artificial fields of glory. Who could resist the delicate droop of white French tulips with a gentle pink threading down each petal? Money always flew out of my pocket faster than my business sense let me on those early mornings.
One of the chapters is on the development of new varieties, like for instance, a new rose. Some of the discussion is how all the varieties are being bred for shelflife. Through that process, most of the flowers have lost their natural scent. A flower's scent is its sexual reproductive mechanism-- the smell becomes most powerful when it is ready to be fertilized. This conceptual loss is similar to the theme of the book I just finished, Animal Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, who comments on the loss of fruit and vegetable variety in the American diet. There used to be thousands of varities of fruits and vegetables; now, we commonly see less than 50 in most grocery stores. The old hardy local indigenous varieties have died out to outsourcing, genetics and production.
Didn't you say that you leaned into every bouquet? Do we really want to forget the smell of flowers? The same goes for local produce. We don't want our industry to outweigh the natural resources of plants. For more information, visit Slow Foods. We need to be aware of our consumer habits and how they are affecting our future, our oil prices and the environment.

1 comment:

Jess said...

Great info - another great reason to support local farmer's markets. I'm always surprised at the variety of things that I see there that I don't see in the grocery stores. I'm also looking forward to growing vegies in my back yard. Have you done any research on juicing? Any thoughts on that, whether it's a good way to get your nutrients?