When you buy from local farmers you're doing more than just sustaining the community and it's economy.
Keeping carbon footprints as low as possible by shopping locally is one of the ways we can do our part. Shipping from every continent (save Antarctica) in air conditioned containers, over barges, in semi-trucks and distributed to various vendors in Canada is directly affecting climate change.
Approximately 50% of ornamental floriculture in Canada is imported. That includes bulbs, cut flowers+ foliage, live plants and xmas trees. Many of the top sellers we could and should be producing domestically. For Flowers alone, the industry generated $1.5 billion in national farm gate sales, even managing to export $500 million, according to Flowers Canada Growers.
Roses have been known to contain 50x the amount of pesticides compared to the legal limit in our food. We may not be eating the petals, but who doesn’t immediately stick their noses in them? We compost them in our backyard or our municipal composting systems, which goes right back into the soil/food net.
Even delicate sprays of Baby’s Breath can have a sinister side. Exploitation of workers both domestically and abroad is something seldom spoken about. A recent Canadian report states since the pandemic began, migrant workers have experienced an increase in exploitation.
We know less regulated countries are able to use more chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides which is bad for our environment, but it takes it’s toll on people too. When exposed in large quantities, it can cause acute poisoning, long tern health effects including cancer and reproductive harm. The Baby’s Breath we so love to pair with a red, red rose, to symbolize deep love and devotion to our loved ones, can be in turn, poisoning another’s. Seeing a rose for sale in BC's winter is wonderful, but its likely coming from somewhere like Colombia where the minimum wage is the Canadian equivalent to around $330 per month. Grown by people who work long, hard and dangerous hours are not compensated with slave wages or relying on child labour. I say this not to be an alarmist, but to raise an awareness of a serious blight we, as a society, are perpetuating.
Growing organically has its downfalls;
We aren’t as productive, in the short term, but what is grown ‘conventionally’ today, is effectively stealing from tomorrow. Conventional fertilizers strip the living soil of its nutrients, kills biological microbes and fungi, turning it into a sterile growing medium, permanently relying on synthetic additive. Topsoil blows off fields (like the dust bowl) leaving us without fertile lands to feed ourselves.
We use good old fashioned compost that we apply annually. If we nurture the soil and treat it as the living entity that it is, future generations will be able to reap what we sow.
Our products might even be a little smaller. Strawberries that haven’t been pumped with water to reach a desired packing weight, packs a punch of flavor that can knock a grown man down, kneeling to the soil gods, praying for the privilege to eat one more.
Organically grown is usually more expensive. Many factors can add up to a larger bill; When the patch inevitably grows weeds, we don't spray poison. A human goes into the field and pulls each and every little seedling out of the ground. Part of our effort means paying workers a living wage, so they can afford to buy organic food themselves.
As some self-satisfiers have pointed out: ‘Whats the point of a #722 pumpkin if you can't eat it?” Well, no, we don’t eat it. It would probably make a lousy pie, but it does turn into compost, which feeds the soil, the plants, and then perhaps you!
Theres also something to be said for another kind of food. 'Food of the Soul’. Just like a bouquet of flowers, seeing and touching a giant pumpkin can bring a lot of joy. Something a piece of kale, no mater how nutritious, might not spark in us.
Have you seen the cut flower Billy Buttons? They're kind of ridiculous. A two foot tall, wire thin stem, with a bright yellow 1” globe balanced on top, practically bouncing in the wind, like a bubble ready to pop.
Why would we ship hundreds of thousands of these little beauties all the way from Australia, when we can grow them in our own backyard? I want them (or "need", like I tell myself when browsing the newest seed catalogues) in my life, but only if that means not sacrificing my ethics.
Just those little flowers feed me in more ways than I can count, and lets face it, we all could use a little bit of cheering up right now.
I hope to see you soon and join our soil revolution, one flower at a time.