You know us well here at elmkind, we strongly believe in using 100% based organic ingredients. Not just for the health benefits for us as individuals, but for the sustainability of our planet and our environment as a whole. So, with Valentine's Day today, and a lot of people rushing home from work to pick up some flowers for their loved ones. We urge you to stop and think!
Do I know where these flowers have come from? Is what I am touching safe for me and my family?
The traditional floral industry, as we know it today, sadly like many of our 20th century production services has been maximised to output as much product as possible for maximum profits. That means the majority of flowers that are sold in supermarkets and floral wholesalers have been grown halfway across the world and have been grown with chemicals to guarantee crop quality and preserve them for transportation. In 2019 for example, 90% of flowers and ornamental plants were imported and these sales totalled a staggering £1.3 billion. The top countries that grow and export flowers are Netherlands, Ecuador, Columbia, Kenya and Ethopia. Within the EU there are strict rules on chemical applications but where the crops form a large and essential part of developing countries GDP this is not necessarily the case and this means they are not closely monitored. Resulting in dangerous working conditions for everyone in the supply chain and subsequently you too as the end user.
We all know about the decline in pollinators due to the use of some pesticides and the indirect impact and implications for our ecosystems that our very own food production relies upon. Not to mention the degradation of soil quality and chemical wash off into our water systems (but that is another topic, so we won’t go there). However, it was not the environmental impact that was so shocking to us, it was the impact on our health. Science led by Professor Khaoula Toumi at the University if Liege between 2016 and 2019 looked at the impacts on our health from exposure to pesticide residues on cut flowers. They asked 20 volunteer florists to wear gloves for 2-3 hours a day, working with the flowers they ‘normally’ use from their wholesalers. They then took the gloves to the lab and traced the chemicals. They discovered over 107 different chemicals ranging from insecticides to fungicides that have hazardous chronic effects if you are exposed to them for any duration. Even more shocking was the levels of these chemicals were 1000 times more concentrated than on food stuffs! That is 1000 times ‘food safe’ usage!
In 2019 they also tested the urine of a sample of florists (with non-florists also tested as a comparison) and they found 70 different residues of pesticides, averaging 8 per person, clearly showing that these chemicals were being absorbed into the body by the florists. These chemicals are sprayed onto the flowers at source where it is absorbed, but residue remains and can be absorbed by the very people who handle the flowers. These chemicals are not fatal but have chronic life impacting effects like causing neurological damage, infertility and cancer. So, by choosing to buy locally sourced UK organic flowers you can ensure the flowers in your home are as natural as the environment they have been grown in. Supplied to you with love and care, and from fair working conditions. Yes, they may well be slightly more expensive than your commercial shop bought flowers but by choosing this you are saying ‘NO’ to bigger organisations that are exploiting (and poisoning) our environment and the work force that are involved in the supply.
It should NEVER be about putting profit before planet, and your actions speak so loud. So take 5 minutes and give your local florist a call this lunchtime and put an order in for UK organic flowers to pick up on your way home. It’s quick, it’s easy, its simple, and you are not just doing something for your health but you are also supporting a local business, a local family and a local community. Thank you for taking the time to read our latest blog. If you found this interesting share it with a friend and let's never stop learning ✌️
Further reading and resources
Pesticide Residues on Three Cut Flower Species and Potential Exposure of Florists in Belgium (2016)
Risk Assessment of Florists Exposed to Pesticide Residues through Handling of Flowers and Preparing Bouquets (2017)
Biological monitoring of exposure to pesticide residues among Belgian florists (2019)