For Valentine’s Day, most of us will buy flowers, and those that we will be purchasing are already enroute to us from abroad.
Valentine’s Day is the most important day of the year for those involved in the commerce of flowers, and most of our cut flowers are now grown in the southern hemisphere and travel here by plane. The domestic cut-flower industry was once centered on our west coast, but now most are flown in from South America where labor and taxes are cheaper.
Picture rows of women standing beside conveyor belts, first removing all the thorns, leaves, and blemishes and trimming stems. Then the bunches of flowers are dunked in drums of fungicide, dried, and then packed into boxes for shipping. Refrigerated trucks drive the boxes to the nearest airport where thousands of boxes are shrink wrapped and loaded by forklifts into the holds of jumbo jets.
Most enter the US through Miami International Airport, but some go to the New York, Chicago, and Californian hubs. The planes carrying flowers begin arriving before dawn and are inspected for insects and disease before being loaded onto trucks. About 15 billion cut flowers are transported globally each year.