Just a reminder on this Valentine's Day that the flowers you're buying likely came from Ecuador or Colombia. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the following data for 2015.
This occasion (like Mother's Day) is important for the economies of both countries and they are very attuned to it. But they also come with challenges:
The flower industry in Ecuador, and rose-growing in particular, has been both a boon and a burden for the country; while it created more than 115,000 jobs in 2008, occupied mostly by women, and exported $800 million worth of cut flowers in 2015, the industry has grappled with water overuse and the human impact of horticultural chemicals.
Stooping over rose bushes all day takes a toll on the body. One benchmark study revealed that Colombian flower workers can be exposed to 127 different chemicals from pesticide use. Pregnant women exposed to pesticide chemicals have high rates of premature births and miscarriages. Pay is minimal, the few pesos awarded per packaged rose result in a monthly paycheck of $300 or less. Child labor was rampant in the cut-flower business before initiatives were implemented in 1996 to eliminate the practice, but the use of underage workers still occurs. Women dominate the worker population, with more than 80,000 holding positions on farms, and sexual harassment by male bosses is often reported.
Sorry, I'm not trying to lay a guilt trip on you or ruin the occasion. We political scientists just tend to find the politics in everything.