Friday, February 10, 2012

Rethink Valentine's Day!

It's that time of year, all the ads for edible arrangements, flowers and Russel Stover Chocolates are back on television.  However, as human rights and environmental groups observe on virtually every holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Halloween) the ecological and human rights costs of these products are in sharp contrast to the holidays they are used to celebrate.  Could there be a worse gift than something dowsed in chemicals, that causes birth defects, and permanent environmental damage?

About 78% of the flowers imported to the U.S. are from Colombia and Ecuador.  Cut flowers are heavily treated with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, a number of these chemicals are considered illegal in the United States.  The people who apply these chemicals are young women and sometimes children, causing serious respiratory disorders and birth defects. Then they have to be shipped thousands of miles, continually hydrated, and refrigerated. 

While the CEO of Russell Stover has promised that their contracts with cocoa companies in the Ivory Coast prohibit slave labor, the ecological cost of plantation farming, pesticide application and chocolate processing is extensive (and don't even get us started on palm oil).

Why not be a little more creative than chocolate and flowers?  
It actually doesn't even require a lot of creativity.  Preparing a healthy, local, organic meal is a pretty great option, and you can avoid the Valentine's Day Restaurant craze.  There is also a growing popularity of local and organic wines. 
Fair trade organic chocolate is a little pricey (and definitely not local) - but it's delicious, and pays workers a fair price and invests in sustainable farming in developing countries, some mainstream brands like dove are even moving towards sustainability. Choosing local jewelry and crafts support local artists and are more unique.  It's also time to buy seeds (if you haven't already) - organic seeds will grow into an organic garden which will turn into organic homegrown food!

The best possible gift of course is a gift CT NOFA membership or maybe a gift Winter Conference registration.  

Have a great weekend!

P.S. The NOFA Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care starting next Wednesday in Connecticut and on Febrary 27 in Rhode Island is still taking registrations if you are serious about "going organic" with your business, organization, town or school!

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