Lots of interesting post-Valentine's Day stories, including:
Florists in Baghdad are getting back on track. Roses were going for five bucks each, but there were also enough teddy bears and plush red hearts to go around. Good to know that cheap and not terribly romantic Valentine's merchandise is available all over the world. (What grown woman wants a stuffed animal as a romantic overture? I don't get it.)
Meanwhile, overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia were warned not to go around flaunting all that lascivious V-day merchandise because "the muttawah or… Commission for the
Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, are “especially active"
during this time of the year because they always try to stop Saudis
from celebrating Valentine’s Day – which they regard as “an alien,
Good to know. And flower growers in Gaza were finally able to export carnations across the border, so that's progress. Meanwhile, Kenya, which supplies roses to Europe for the big day, had a mediocre season, and Colombia's a little worried,too.
It's all so romantic when you think about it in terms of war-torn border crossings and global currency destabilizations, isn't it?
And how about this. The story's a bit old, but that's appropriate, somehow: Scientists have finally understood a little more about how a chemical called 1-methylcyclopropane works to block ethelyne production and slow down ripening in flowers, plants, and fruits. They believe it's a reaction with naturally-occurring copper in plant cells.
What, you've never heard of 1-methylcyclopropane? Found in products like EthylBloc,
sprayed on flowers and plants to make them last longer? (That's the
Valentine's Day connection; ethylene inhibitors are used in the flower
industry to make roses last longer.) Or SmartFresh, which is sprayed on apples, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, and other fruit?
Well, trust me, you've eaten it. A 2006 NYT article (stale,but still crisp!) reports that almost 2/3 of our apples are sprayed with SmartFresh. One interesting point is that "by suppressing ethylene it decreases the esters that give ripe apples their fruity aromas," which may explain why you've bitten into a crisp and juicy apple only to find the taste gone. UK news reports said that American grocery shops may stock apples that are up to a year old, while UK apples may be only six months old, with the treatment.
Now, there doesn't seem to be any data that indicates that the stuff is harmful–see the Pesticide Action Network's page on the product–and at the moment, it's not approved for use on organic produce, so you can get around eating it–but I ask you: do chemical preservatives take the romance out of strawberries and roses, neither of which are in season in February anyway?Posted by Amy Stewart on February 16, 2009 at 7:51 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.