Organic Bouquet’s mission: “. . . to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in the floral industry,” states Claudio Miranda, VP of eCommerce of OrganicBouquet.com. Their flowers are grown all over the United States and abroad. “Although our initial intent was to work exclusively with growers in the USA, we quickly learned that the real impact was being made in Columbia and Ecuador,” says Miranda. “All of our growers support sustainability through their farming practices. In addition to being certified organic, or in the process of being certified, each farm has sustainable social practices as well,” including fair wages and trade practices as well as high quality employee health care and education.
Some people may question the sustainability of importing organic flowers from places like Ecuador and Columbia, but Miranda clarifies OrganicBouquet.com’s position.
“Although importing flowers is unsustainable in and of itself, what we’re doing serves a much larger purpose and need. The fact of the matter is that 70% of all flowers sold in this country come from Columbia and Ecuador, particularly roses. These flowers are grown using millions of pounds of highly toxic chemicals per year. The impact of this massive usage is devastating to the planet and the health of farm workers. These atrocities have been largely kept quiet because the floral trade is a several billion dollar industry that keeps its corporate interests well protected.”
The company’s founder, Gerald Prolman, is a pioneer who has worked hard to transform the industry from the inside out. Recognizing that Columbia and Ecuador are huge players in the market, Prolman convinced the President of Ecuador’s Floral Association, who is also one of the country’s largest growers, of the need to farm organically, and, together, they started the world’s first commercial crop of organic roses. Prolman has worked hard to eliminate toxic pesticides such as methyl bromide, metam sodium, chloropicrin, and other carcinogenic fungicides.
The benefits of farming organically are enormous for farmers and florists alike. According to Miranda, “In the case of florists and farmers with chemical sensitivities, exposure can lead to rashes, headaches, and respiratory problems. Furthermore, farmers benefit by enriching their land and soil and reducing the dependency on chemicals.”
Miranda describes the impact of long-term chemical use on the floral industry. “(Flowers) can be more robust, vigorous. But over time, chemicals destroy a plant’s natural immune system while increasing its dependency on chemicals to maintain normalcy. The same goes for a cocaine user. The end result is a diminished immune system and long-term chemical dependency. The soil on a farmer’s land reacts the same way. Over time the chemicals deplete the micro-organisms and render the soil unusable. Plus the chemicals can pollute the surrounding water system and wildlife.”
As with the organic food industry, Miranda confirms the number one reason to go organic: the health benefits. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved: farmers, consumers and Mother Earth. There are few things in life where the by-product is good health. Going organic is one of them.