Thursday, May 18, 2006

Certified Flowers

Great posts in the comments section in response to my Times piece on socially and envirnmentally responsible flowers. I've heard from a few people in the industry who want me to remember that there are many farms doing the right thing, and many certification programs besides VeriFlora.

You'll see when my book comes out that I did write about farms that were doing a great job and certified by many international organizations. Many countries have their own eco-label program for flowers, and there are farms in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere that are certified through more than one of these programs.

However, from a US consumer's standpoint, it's not very helpful to know about, for instance, the FLP program, which certifies flowers sold in Germany. We can't ask for flowers with the FLP label here. There might be flowers sold in the US that were grown on an FLP-certified farm, but a consumer has no way of knowing that when he or she is buying flowers.

VeriFlora is attempting to actually label flowers sold in the US, regardless of where they were grown, so that consumers can make a choice about "eco-friendly" flowers. The next step is for consumers to actually ask for and buy those flowers. That's what I'm hoping to encourage.

I hope that, in the long run, all of these certification programs can come together and agree on one standard. It would be much easier for consumers if there was just one standard that worked worldwide, instead of this hodgepodge of different standards that farms must try to meet for different markets.

I think that many of us want to do the right thing. We want to buy dolphin-safe tuna and fair trade coffee. Just make it easy for us, and we'll do it.

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