Valentine's Day Flowers and Chocolate? Think Again

February 14, 2001

Ahhhh, Valentine’s day. A celebration of love. A Hallmark card filled with affectionate verse. A bouquet of flowers,crimson roses for passion, yellow daffodils for joy. And chocolate, a heart-shaped box of truffles as innocent anddeliciously sinful as a first kiss. Valentines day. What’s not to like?

Funny you should ask.

Today we’ll tell you. These lovely flowers. Mmmm, just smell them. They were genetically engineered and grown inColombia on a giant pesticide-soaked factory farm run by U.S.-owned Dole Foods. The workers there used to beself-sufficient farmers. Today, they earn $200 a month and spend much of it on food that needs to be imported nowthat the land their families worked for centuries is used to grow flowers.

But the chocolate? This particular box is made from Brazilian cacao bought up by Nestles or Hersheys or one of theother transnational corporations that controls the global trade. The cacao was grown on cleared rainforest byunderpaid workers, often children. Well, you get the picture. ... And we haven’t even mentioned the dioxin in thepaper used to make the Hallmark card.

Valentine’s Day. What’s not to like? Our guests today will give you all the unlovely details.


  • Mary Ann Mahony, assistant professor of history at Notre Dame, who is writing the book ??Revisiting theViolent Lands: Bahia’s Cacao Region.
  • Donavan Hohn, former associate editor of Harpers Magazine.
  • Joe Winny, founder of Organic Commodity Products.

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