Workers in greenhouses in Central and South America cut each stem individually and immediately place each flower in a bucket of water.
If there is even the slightest blemish the flower is discarded.
When each bucket is full, the workers submerge each flower in a vat of pesticides.
The flowers are then packed in long cardboard boxes and stored in coolers before the boxes are loaded into refrigerated trucks for their trip to an airport.
They will not be put into water again until about 4-5 days later when they are displayed in retail stores in the USA. But first they have an airplane journey ahead in a cold storage hold. There are many U.S. airports they may go through to enter our country. However, Miami is the most popular entry port.
There, the boxes of blossoms will be inspected by officers from Homeland Security who are alert for any insects or bits of mold which can cause a whole shipment to be destroyed.
Ironically, although inspectors check for pesticides on all imported food items, they do not check for pesticides on flowers, which will be smelled but will not be consumed. So, be sure not to bury your face in that bunch of roses that you buy! Most will not have any scent anyway.
After inspection, the flowers continue their journey to the New York Wholesale Flower Market, where retailers bid on them. Then they are off to our local stores, where at last they get a drink of water.
This is Moya Andrews, and today we focused on harvesting flowers.