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US: How cut flowers get to your home

Do you ever wonder where the flowers in your local flower shop come from? It might be hard to believe, but most of the flowers you see and send come from far-away places like Colombia and Ecuador and travel for days to get to the United States. Which begs the question— how do these flowers stay fresh in transit? Much like Passengers with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, these flowers are put to sleep during international travel. Familiar favorites like roses, carnations, daisies, and hydrangeas make the trip that starts on a farm and ends in your home.

A majority of cut flowers in the United States are imported, and of those flowers nearly 80% come from Colombia— many of the cut flowers come from rural areas of Colombia’s capital Bogotá. When the flowers are first harvested at the farm level, they are bundled and packed in dry boxes with large holes on each end of the box to allow air flow. These boxes are placed in a large cooling unit that quickly pulls out all the warm air and replaces it with cold air. This process is similar to flash freezing, but the flowers don’t freeze completely— they are cooled to approximately 35 degrees. This maximizes shelf life and minimizes handling damage. At this point the flowers are sleeping and can travel the world!

Refrigerated trucks transfer the cold flowers to refrigerated planes. The majority of flowers fly to either Miami or LAX where they are loaded again into refrigerated trucks that travel to destination warehouses. Here, the flowers are hydrated and brought back to life. Flowers are then loaded into trucks that take them to flower markets or deliver directly to local florists, where they are arranged into the bouquets that you put in your home.

This is called the Cold Chain, and it’s not hard to guess why— keeping the flowers cold but not frozen is essential to maintaining their quality throughout the journey. It’s the same treatment that other fruits and vegetable receive when traveling internationally. Amazingly, these flowers are often stronger, fresher, and more affordable than local coastal flowers.

Different flowers respond differently to the process. Roses are unique in that, when they return to room temperature and begin to open, you cannot put them back to sleep. They can be slowed down in their life cycle when in the fridge, but they cannot go back to their traveling state. Other flowers like carnations and daisies can return to cold temps and go back to being dormant. To maintain peak freshness, flowers should not be kept dormant for more than a week— any longer and the quality begins to suffer. As long as flowers have access to water when they are warm, they can be brought back and forth from warm to cold multiple times. The most important thing is to keep them cold when they are dry and can’t get any sustenance.

Click here to read the original article at HuffPost.


09/13/2017 - HuffPost



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