This week I started reading a book that’s been on my bucket list for a while, Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart. Debra Prinzing, spoke of the book in a recent blog on debraprinzing.com and I thought, “That’s it! I’m reading it” Sometimes you just need a little nudge, and that did it.
Even after nearly a decade of publishing this book, it is still just as groundbreaking as ever in my eyes. Before this week, I felt like I have been looking through a partially open window to the flower industry. The window slowly creaks open as the weeks and months pass by for First & Bloom. Some days it’s a fast creak… other days it’s sloooooow.
Holy Cow! What is going to happen when I actually finish this book!
A few things I’ve learned over the last couple days which resulted in reactions like:
”No Kidding!... Are you serious!.... I had no idea!..... I never thought about it that way!”
-The worldwide cut flower industry is estimated at $40 billion. That’s a lot of zeros!
- In 1998, McDonald’s reported that Americans consumed 600 million Big Mac’s a year. According to data collections in 2005 by the Department of Homeland Security, the United States consumes 4,000,000,000 specialty cut flowers and greens every year. That’s a lot of flowers!
-Want long-lasting flowers, forget the scent! Flower breeders have learned over time that consumer demand emphasizes vase life of a flower over smell. So when you are at the super market picking out a bouquet of flowers, you are likely not actually smelling any flowers…. But an artificial flower scent pumped into the ventilation of the room! It’s a give and take type situation for breeders. You can’t have both when it comes to mass production of cut flowers.
-Speaking of super markets… ever notice how flowers are placed at the front of the store right next to the produce section. In the eyes of a grower, this is a big no-no! Ever heard of the trick to put a green banana or avocado in a paper bag with an apple? The apple speeds the process of ripening the banana or avocado, technically known as ethylene. Ethylene is the process of ripening a fruit or the blooming of a flower, which is actually the process of it dying. Apples naturally have a higher concentration of ethylene, a gaseous hormone.
What real flowers look like! I can to you where every single one of them came from and who grew them.
Flower for thought… Because consumers prefer vase life over scent, growers produce flowers that are long-lasting. Retailers then place the flowers next to produce which speeds up the shelf-life of flowers. And consumers buy the flowers with long-lasting and scented expectations thinking they are adding a “natural and green” touch to their lives, when in reality, the majority of these flowers have never seen an ounce of natural sunlight and their roots have no idea what soil is!
Here’s me on my soap box…. Until consumers start asking questions about where flowers are coming from and how they are actually grown, just like with food manufacturers and produce growers, the industry will not change.
As we start approaching the largest holiday of the year for florists, Valentine’s Day, you are going to start seeing roses for super cheap. A dozen roses for $40… $30… $19.99. Really?...... REALLY? For the love of all things holy...where did those roses come from? How much was the labor costs? Just how far did they travel?
My only wish this Valentine season, second to buying flowers from First & Bloom directly…. Is to ask where your flowers came from and look for the American Grown label on the packaging. When you start dropping hints to the honey about what you want, tell them interesting things you learned about flowers today! I’ve seen it at Trader Joe’s and just recently Costco labeled Washington grown tulips.
Soap Box over.
Ok… so next week, I have some seriously AWESOME updates! One, I’m going to be one of 12 local professional florists to participate in the Lisa Waud Workshop of The Flower House, which is sponsored by both Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and SlowFlowers.com! I’m thrilled beyond belief to be participating.
It will be A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!
Secondly… which I plan to sign on the dotted line this afternoon… my big news will be secured! But I can’t tell you just yet.
What’s that?… ok, ok. I’ll give a hint: Downtown Issaquah
These flowers right here... all 100% American Grown!
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