Hilary Benn has told a sustainable food conference that its better to buy flowers from Africa than from Holland: that it “costs” less, environmentally, to fly them from Kenya, than it does to have them grown in a greenhouse in Holland. This, of course, is ahead of Valentine’s Day, when the UK goes mad and flowers reach a premium they don’t, the rest of the year (i feel sorry for those who have a birthday in the week before Valentine’s. they’d never get flowers).

hmmmm. I’m not one of these people that thinks Valentine’s is a commercial day, another opportunity for the shops to part you from your pennies (although they certainly try to do so, i think there are still important lessons behind the commercial message). But lets examine that statement for some consistency, shall we?

While i certainly believe the carbon emissions are less, heated greenhouse vs airmiles – it would be a stupid minister who made a claim like that without checking the math – the rest of the article points out some equally valid points. like that of the bigger picture – those grown in Holland are more likely to employ workers who are given proper benefits, and not slave labour. Someone else pointed out that flowers grown in Africa are mostly sold in supermarkets – so you have to add the cost of driving to the out-of-town places in order to get to them.

and finally.. the best point of all. If you are *truly* that worried about the environment and poverty in Africa…. 1) don’t buy cut flowers at all (saves ya money too). 2) produce an IOU for your intended, and grow them in your garden. You could even romantically dress up a packet of seeds, then she has the promise of beautiful flowers to look forward to, as they grow along with your relationship. (see, told you i was a romantic). 3) take the money you would have spent on flowers, after you’ve bought the seeds and put it towards something better suited to saving the environment, or addressing the poverty issue.

hasn’t that got to be better than deciding which continent to get your flowers from?

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