"Forty billion dollars changing hands each year, all in the name of flowers. The idea was intoxicating. Before long, it became clear that this global flower traffic was not without consequence. A hundred years ago, for example, almost all of the cut flowers sold in the United States were also grown here; now roughly three-fourths of our flowers are imports, mostly coming from Latin America. The flowers themselves have been forced to change in response. They are now bred more for their suitability as freight than for any of their more refined qualities —delicacy, grace, and fragrance. They may have lost their scent, but they’ve gained a longer vase life. They’ve lost their individuality but have gained the ability to travel all the way from Ecuador or Holland to sit on your hall table in the middle of December. "