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Flower power.

by Elco B Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 08:23:43 PM EST

Euh... yes, I'm old enough to write first hand about Flower Power..... Amsterdam......Paradiso.... end 1960's and early 70's but no, no memoires yet.

  This story is about the real flowers from today, the ones we buy as a gift, a present or attention for our loved ones, specially with the newyear's parties and gatherings ahead.

And yes, as so many things today, flowers are globalised.  

A short distance outside of Amsterdam is the Aalsmeer Flower Auction which is the world's largest.
Millions of flowers and plants are bought and sold here each business day. Although the majority of them come from local producers, many are flown in from other countries. Once they go through the auction, they are loaded onto airplanes for the trip to the U.S. and other countries to be sold that day from your local florist shop.

Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer is a prominent link in the international chain of flower and plant sales. An average of 20 million flowers and 2 million plants change hands every day. These are supplied by more than 5.400 growers world-wide, and bought by 1100 wholesalers and exporters. Within a couple of hours they are exported to almost every country in the world. Aalsmeer Flower Auction's share is 45% of the world-market.....  turnover of 1.7 billion euro in 2005.

however a  growing share of,  32 % now, is imported from more than 45 different countries. Kenya, Israel, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ecuador and Zambia are the most important international suppliers.

SO...flowers raised in Kenia or Ecuador can  finally be sold in New York, Paris,  Pretoria or Sao Paulo or.....

Buying a flower for most of us is something we do automaticly without thinking where they come from.

Are they local grown?  from the Netherlands?
 The above shows the flowers travel sometimes a longer distance than you ever did yourself.

To be sure the flowers last for a few weeks, production is high-tech now. The latest developements are exported  from Europe to country's where circumstances are far more favourable than ours.

  And of course we are not only talking about climate but also about cheap labor.

The following pictures are from Ecuador.  

Well, the story behind those pictures is ....yeah... depressing.

  • All kinds of chemicals are used: local workers are hardly protected.(In the picture above the man his eyes are not protected!)
  • Max wages are around 160 USD/month wich is below 278 USD considered as poverty-limit.
  • Children are put to work in order to ameliorate the family-income.
  • Seen from here (Western-Europe) people working in these flower-business are slaves...
  • What's really weird : those flowers are flown around the world with fuel eating planes.

Do we have an alternative ?
If you do not have a garden to raise your own flowers you can find more here:

i hope you kept notes for those memoirs...

lovely pics!

when i lived in the big island of hawaii, the biggest (legal) export was tropical flowers, especially anthuriums.

huge shade houses everywhere, chemicals a gogo.

the most money was in orchids, where incomes of $130,000 to $150,000 for a single farmer were reported.

to combat expensive and extensive infection, there were state rules making regular preventative sprays compulsory.

so they had nice shiny new suv's, those orchid farmers, and flash fishing boats, but there was a problem...

life expectancy.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 05:42:33 AM EST
or the god awful eating habits?  I see more obscenely obese people here with the accompanying rates of diabetes, alcoholism, hypertension etc.
by HiD on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 06:24:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you are entirely correct sir!

being in a supermarket queue in hawaii was the most tragic experience...

the blood mixes of korean, chinese, maori, samoan, hawaiian, japanese, portugese, filipino genotypes made a new race of golden children, who were promptly tortured by the appalling dietary ignorance of the parents.

so many angelic faces...but when they opened their mouths they had all metal teeth sometimes!

the fatter and unhealthier the parents, the more junkfood in the trolley...

and when it comes to junk food america takes the betty crocker-full-of-poison prize for sheer inventiveness in creating diabolically clever ruses to start the kids as quickly as possible on the road to disease.

the rule of junkfood is near absolute, and the soda flows all year round from the baby bottles.

it was like watching a rubens painting getting slashed, seeing so much beauty despoiled...

especially as hawaii was where i learned to appreciate the importance of choosing what goes into making your daily new blood.

raising children not to go that route was the most challenging trial i've ever faced, you feel so outgunned by the corporations that cynically narket this evil to children, shamelessly using characters like ron mcdon to ruin young lives.

most of the flower farmers tended to be japanese...who eat a lot less junk food.

to see the diets of those least tainted by the nightmare, i used to like to amble through the saturday morning mamo st market in hilo, where you'd see vegetables that were completely off the regular map, and taste really novel and surprising works of nature....

like fried gobo...(burdock root)....wow!

and razorthin slices of pickled pink baby ginger root, for tucking into sushi...

and big yellow-fleshed sweet-potatoes, and gorgeous orange yams that oozed caramel when baked, and whose skin was so sweet and chewy, and tasted of fire and ashes, and jackfruit chunks, and the seeds boiled like chestnuts..

the seven (at least) different types of avocado, purple-skin, hard, like from down napoopoo road, soft, buttery, small-seed, watery-kine, spotted, all in different seasons and all so different, and all so good...

we'd hike into the jungle and find a 30ft avo tree in the waawaa area, with a spoon and a bottle of herb salt, with hundreds fallen on the florest floor for us wild animals to munch.

and sitting under the hayden mango tree with some mosquito netting to squeeze fresh juice into the coconut cup, with some fresh tangy acerola cherries thrown in for the colour...

backpacks full of passionfruit and papayas, spending an hour beating a coconut against the lava rock until all the husk was off and then chewing the meat and spitting the white fluff on each other, sucking the sweet oil.

and the little red juicy mountain apples that grew right on the treetrunk and tasted like spring...and the purple flowers that preceded them...

and the little rose apples that tasted a bit like shampoo, but grew on you, with their big white pompom flowers that smelled like magic and tickled your nose...

and putting a sprouted coconut overnight in the campfire embers and eating the spongy centre for breakfast, turned mocha flavour from the slow roast..

and the chocolate guavas,...and the white pineapples, so much sweeter than the yellow, and without the woody pith...

tender, coral pink mangosteen flesh, so strange and precious..

and a big ripe strawberry papaya filled with thimbleberries and a dash of lime....

and to think how much i used to miss stonefruit like southern italian white peaches while i lived there!

anyway, now i see papayas and mangoes here in yurp, but they don't even begin to think about coming close...

vapid, rubbery, off-tasting...

on kauai we camped for 6 months in a litchi orchard, in a commune called valley house.

there was an old haole farmer who'd sell organic oranges right off his trees outside his door, up mauka from kapaa.

his name was jack, and i thought he had a wonderful life.

sorry for the delirious nostalgia hit....

hawaii is a blessed place, a huuuge part of my heart never left.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 08:45:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
was that Jack disabled?  If so I know him.  He still sells at the Kapaa farmer's market.  We're trying to grown avos in our yard.  So far the salty wind is beating them down (we're only a 150 yds inland about 5 mi N of Kapaa so mucho wind and salt spray.  The citrus is growing but no fruit yet.  I tried watermelons but the fruit flys made them more protein than vegetable -- yuk.  When I get done with all my other projects I think I'll build a screen house to grow veggies.      Our  land was horribly overfarmed for decades by the pineapple plantation so not much fertility.  it's getting better with mulch and any other organics I can find.                    

The tropical fruits and Asian veggies are indeed very very different.  Sounds like you tried a lot more of them than we have so far.

If your Valley House commune was up the Keapana Valley you'll be sad to know the land was sold to a Hedge Fund owner.  At least he built a fairly modest house (so far) and has been pretty kind to the land from what I've seen.  The place is really developing a bit too fast (says one of the causes of the problem).

by HiD on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 04:00:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good to hear from you, ElcoB!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 06:06:27 AM EST
Not entirely ontopic, i guess, but your diary reminded me of Darwin's Nightmare:


A story of people, fish and guns.

by Torres on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 09:47:27 AM EST
That fish from lake Victoria still is flown in here in Belgium on the same planes with flowers and vegetables from various African country's.
Here a recent picture of a MK-Airlines Boeing-747 freighter landing at Ostend (Belgium). MK-Airlines
 has daily cargo-flights between Africa and Europe.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 06:40:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I first saw that fish for sale here in Portugal, a few weeks before learning it's story.
by Torres on Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 08:04:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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