The Darker Side of Valentine’s Day

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Businesses have been going full-steam to get their V-Day tie-ins, no doubt keeping their PR firms very busy. When I did a PR Newswire key word search for “Valentine’s Day,” it returned 2219 hits.

Valentine’s Day involves all the usual things you’d expect: mushy cards, flowers, chocolate, lingerie and other related gifts, sometimes marriage proposals. But it also has a darker side.

Flowers: “Concern has been mounting recently over the use of toxic pesticides to grow flowers in such countries as Ecuador and Colombia, which export about two-thirds of flowers bought in the United States. Often the workers tend and prepare the blooms in confined greenhouses.” (Kansas City Star)

Chocolate: “Producer poverty comes at the hands of global corporations like M&M Mars, and other members of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association of America, that manipulate the market to keep profits high while producer incomes stay low. Under intense pressure from consumers and the U.S. Congress, the global chocolate industry agreed to a voluntary protocol to end child slavery on cocoa farms by July 2005. But rather than accept responsibility for their role in exacerbating producer poverty, their plan placed the blame on farmers without providing them the resources they need to feed their families and keep their children in school. Four years after these problems first came to light, little has been accomplished…” (Global Exchange)

Diamonds: “Amputation is forever. That’s the message from the lobby opposed to so-called blood diamonds…the term refers to diamonds associated with mutilation and murder. Mined in a war zone in a country such as Angola, Congo or Sierra Leone, blood diamonds are sold, usually secretly, to finance an insurgent or invading army’s war campaign….If you still feel enthralled by their sparkle, consider a Washington Post report that al-Qaeda has used blood diamonds, particularly from Liberia and Sierra Leone, to launder money to finance its terrorist operations.” (OhmyNews)

If you think, “oh, that’s terrible, but at least Valentine’s Day is still for lovers,” you’d be right, although not in the way you’d expect. The Wall Street Journal’s StartupJournal reports that Valentine’s Day is a big day for detectives and detective agencies involved in what is called “infidelity investigations.”

Valentine’s Day is “a major crisis day for anyone who is having an affair. After all, [it’s] the one holiday when everyone is expected to do something romantic for their spouse or lover — and if someone has both, it’s a serious problem.”

Before you feel too dejected by all this, here are two places you can go to get your sweetie a special something without feeling guilty:

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