Unofficial Tip #1 Just Say No!
Let's get something straight about Valentine's Day. I am not fond of it. When I was "coupled", the holiday was always a disappointment, and now that I'm single, it's just depressing. I ask you, who needs this kind of manufactured angst?
Evidentally, enough of us that my assignment editor suggested the story. Which is not to say I haven't enjoyed researching ways in which you can get the most for your money when ordering flowers; in fact, I've enjoyed it immensely. The assignment has helped me keep Valentine's Day in a perspective that isn't quite so loaded, with my focus on its decidedly non-romantic bottom line.
But before I toe the line with truly useful Tips For Ordering Flowers, let me direct the more politicized among you to a sobering article in February's Harper's Magazine. It's called Fleurs du Mal by Niala Maharaj and Donovan Hohn, and it will surely beat the Send-Flowers-To-Say-I-Love-You romance out of you, if you haven't already divested yourself of that pleasure (forgive me, I am capable of romance most of the year, honest).
Here's an excerpt from that article, detailing the use of chemicals in the production of flowers in Columbia, which, after Holland, is the world's second largest producer of cut flowers:
"...Flowers are subject to none of the pesticide controls that apply to edible crops. Third World producers thus grow them in sterilized soil in greenhouses fumigated as often as once a day with fungicides, insecticides, nemoticides, and herbicides. One fifth of these chemicals are carcinogens or toxins that have been restricted for health reasons in the U.S., and nearly two thirds of Columbia's 75,000 flower workers suffer from maladies... associated with pesticide exposure."
Yes, indeed, Say It With Flowers. For a more detailed look at issues of flower production and global commerce, you might want to track down Maharaj's 1996 book, The Game of the Rose: The Third World in the Global Flower Trade. It's published by the Institute for Development Research (http://www.jsi.com/idr/).