When we talk about the state of the Floral industry in the U.S., the discussion immediately becomes one of international trade. Studies show that up to 90% of all cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported.
The vast majority of which are coming from Columbia and Ecuador. Though there are certainly some farmers doing excellent work, the history of Floral production in those countries has raised understandable concerns, in terms of both human and environmental safety. In 2000, for example, a study by the International Labour Organization cited that, during the school year, up to 80% of workers in Ecuador’s flower industry were children. This has improved but remains a genuine issue. Also, in both Ecuador and Columbia, the rampant use of herbicides and pesticides remains a threat to the land and the people on, and around, those farms. A study led by Philippe Grandjean, an adjunct professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, found alarming evidence of pesticide exposure in both Ecuadorian farm workers and their children. The study showed prenatal exposure to pesticides in 37 of 72 children tested.
Equally concerning is the fact that many pesticides and herbicides, which are banned for use in the U.S., are still being applied to crops in these flower producing countries. Referred to as the “Circle of Poison”, these chemically treated products are then imported back into the U.S. and sold to unaware U.S. consumers.
At Good Earth, we are committed to certified organic farming as the primary tool for ridding our food system of chemicals. When considering how to best approach creating a Floral department for our communities that was in line with our standards, we quickly realized the challenge we faced. What was immediately obvious was that we must avoid all imported flowers. 100% of all flowers sold at Good Earth are domestically grown (in fact, 98% of the flowers we offer are grown in California!). Even during the most demanding times in Floral – Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, for example, we are completely committed to our local farmers and do not resort to imported flowers.
Like every aspect of our industry, achieving 100% certified organic status in our Floral departments is a journey, one that requires unwavering dedication. Each year, we see more and more organic floral options in our area. Year round, we carry product from Thomas Farms, a certified organic flower farm in Aptos. Full Belly Farms in Guinda continues to expand its seasonal offerings of organically grown flowers each year, as well. Until we can offer completely certified organic Floral departments, we supplement our stock with local product regulated by progressive organizations like VeriFlora and the California Cut Flower Commission, both of which are committed to eliminating the use of toxic chemicals in floral farming. As we have since 1969, Good Earth will continue to push until every product sold in our stores is certified organic.