"Cultivating change: the impact of locally grown cut flowers"

The United States, particularly California, was once a leading producer of cut flowers that were sold internationally. Today, 80 percent of cut flowers in the US are imported from other countries, primarily South America and Africa.

In 1991 the US was cracking down on the coca trade and enacted the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) which provided duty-free imports to certain South American products such as live plants and flowers. For US flower growers, this led to a significant decline in their share of the US market, with market shares dropping from 64% to about 20% in 2007. While some US businesses have benefited from expanded trade, US flower farmers have not. The international cut-flower trade is a $36.4 billion industry.

Not only are we outsourcing a job that farmers in the US can fulfill, but there is also a huge environmental impact on how flowers are grown and shipped internationally. The production of cut flowers often involves the use of large amounts of water, pesticides, and other chemicals. These chemicals can contaminate water sources and harm the health of workers and nearby communities.

In addition, the transportation of cut flowers around the world has a significant carbon footprint and contributes to climate change. The industry often involves exploitative labor practices, with workers in developing countries being paid very low wages and subjected to poor working conditions. Consumers who are concerned about the environmental and social impacts of the cut flower industry are increasingly seeking out locally grown and sustainably produced flowers as an alternative. You can read much more about the global cut flower industry in Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart.

Read more at adirondackalmanack.com

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