book coverJust in time for Valentine’s Day, garden columnist Amy Stewart digs up the truth about the floral industry in her new book Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers.

The behind-the-scenes look at the multi-billion-dollar industry took Stewart across the globe to track down geneticists and breeders, visit flower stands and farmers’ markets, and learn firsthand how flowers are grown and harvested in Latin America, California, and Holland. And, she says, it isn’t always pretty.

As usual, I haven’t read it, but Green L.A. Girl says she loved it, and the book’s received a number of other positive reviews.

In other floralific news, the not-so-natural and fairly destructive (think pesticides, long plane trips, and poor working conditions) cut-flower trade is making moves toward social responsibility:

This Valentine’s season marks the first time that environmental- and worker-friendly flowers will be widely available to consumers in the United States. A new certification system called Veriflora has been set up to guarantee that your flowers weren’t grown under abusive conditions. Most Veriflora-certified producers use organic methods; the rest are expected to provide a plan for how they are reducing chemical use and converting to organic. All must show that they are protecting the safety of their workers. Later this year, TransFairUSA — the nonprofit agency that certifies fair trade coffee, chocolate, and bananas — is expected to release a fair trade seal for flowers.

For more about pesticide-free blooms and the Veriflora certification, check out our Q&A with Organic Bouquet CEO Gerald Prolman.

And for more about Flower Confidential, Stewart discusses her book in this short video: