The Secrets Behind Your Flowers

In 1967, Colorado State University graduate student David Cheever wrote a term paper on the Colombian cut flower industry. In 1969, he went to Colombia and started a business. Things took off from there.
It’s not often that a global industry springs from a school assignment, but Cheever’s paper and business efforts started an economic revolution in Colombia. A few other growers had exported flowers to the United States, but Floramérica turned it into a big business. Within five years of Floramérica’s debut at least ten more flower-growing companies were operating on the savanna, exporting some $16 million in cut flowers to the United States. By 1991, the World Bank reported, the industry was “a textbook story of how a market economy works.” Today, the country is the world’s second-largest exporter of cut flowers, after the Netherlands, shipping more than $1 billion in blooms. Colombia now commands about 70 percent of the U.S. market; if you buy a bouquet in a supermarket, big-box store or airport kiosk, it probably came from the Bogotá savanna.

The Colombian flower industry has its problems, like hard work and low wages, pesticide dangers, and environmental impact -not to mention the effect it has on the US flower industry. On the other hand, there is a movement to certify fair labor practices, and working with flowers offers workers economic independence and possibly a better life than they would have otherwise. Smithsonian has the story of how your flowers are grown, picked, and shipped. Link

(Image credit: Ivan Kashinsky)

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"Textbook story of how a market economy works." Meaning: hard work and low wages, pesticide dangers, and environmental impact.

Yes, that's how it works: rape the planet, exploit the workers and push away other economies so that they in turn will have to figure something out to do exactly the same. On so it keeps going ad infinitum until there is no more environment left to rape or people to exploit.
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