Inside the strange industry that brings flowers to your table

Adrian Higgins reviews Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart, in the Washington Post:

2201bouquetofrosestoukraineIn an ideal world, we would buy cut flowers for a sweetheart’s birthday from Teresa Sabankaya. From her green kiosk in Santa Cruz, Calif., she sells blooms that she has raised lovingly on her flower farm. Her flowers, held in buckets that crowd her stall, are “all interesting, unusual, old-fashioned, ephemeral, perfumy,” Amy Stewart writes in her eye-opening new Flower Confidential. In summer, Sabankaya’s customers grab larkspur and poppies; in winter, heathers and berried plants.

But this isn’t how most American consumers get their flowers. Instead, our blooms are more likely to have been raised in high-altitude flower factories in Ecuador or Colombia, dunked in chemicals, flown to Miami and distributed to wholesale markets around the country. A rose cut on a Monday morning in the shadow of a snow-capped volcano might find its way to a Manhattan florist the following Friday, and then be good for a week or more with a little care. In your local supermarket, you will find roses completely devoid of fragrance — pretty in a stiff and uniform sort of way, but not the earthy roses of the garden or Sabankaya’s stall.

More here.