Posted February 11, 2016
Maybe it’s expressed with a simple card and a kiss. Or maybe your style is more suited to a big display of flowers, or a devilishly delicious box of candy, lavish jewelry or a cozy dinner for two. Or all of the above! Whatever the approach, February 14th – Valentine’s Day – is a day for love to abound.
More times than not, there’s a gift involved. In recent years, Americans have increased their Valentine’s Day gift giving. According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day spending is up – from $133.91 per person in 2014 to $142.31 in 2015 – and it’s projected to be $146.84 this year. So, while money can’t buy love, you best not forget the roses and chocolates.
Nor should we overlook the energy that makes Valentine’s Day events and tokens of affection possible. Valentine’s Day energy use crosses a number of sectors – including residential, commercial and industrial. From greeting cards to that romantic night out, here’s how energy plays its role:
Made from the tropical cocoa bean, chocolate is one of the most delicious of all temptations. We buy 58 million pounds of it for Valentine’s Day every year. And energy is the secret ingredient – powering the cargo ships that bring those cocoa beans from their plantations, the factories that make and package the finished treat and the trucks that bring it to your town.
Americans give about 145 million of them to their Valentines every year. Some are funny, some are romantic, but they all take energy – from the paper manufacturer to the printing plant to the truck that brings them to the store, where the perfect card catches your eye.
For many of us, that means roses, maybe red for passion, white for true love, pink for affection, yellow for friendship or any of the above, just because it’s a favorite. Consumers purchase around 250 million of these iconic blooms for Valentine’s Day and 80 to 90 percent of them are grown in South America and flown to the United States.
“It takes electricity to power our refrigerators, fuel for us to receive orders from our vendors and for us to deliver flowers. And we use a lot of technology – phones, computers, printouts.” – Marcia Baker, Higdon Florist, Joplin MO
At the peak of the Valentine’s season, 22 million fresh flowers arrive at Miami’s airport every day. Without energy, the planes that bring them would be grounded – and love too? Who knows, in the future plants themselves may be electrified – which, of course would require more energy.
Summer’s most popular berry becomes an exotic, romantic treat during February’s short and cold days. Berries come from Florida, California and Mexico, each of which expends considerable energy for cultivation and then transportation. Mexican strawberries are even more energy intensive because they must be transported in refrigerated trucks or air-freighted.
The National Retail Federation says 38 percent of those celebrating the holiday will head out on the town for it and spend some $4.5 billion in the process. And, of course, it takes energy to raise the food you’ll be eating, transport it to the chef and prepare it to perfection.
Ah, the most romantic of all adult beverages. But think about it: Those magical bubbles offering a taste of the French countryside or Napa hills are brought to us by (not as romantic) diesel fuel – powering ships, trucks and agricultural equipment. If you choose champagne, remember it has traveled thousands of miles (as few as 3,300 miles to Portland, Me., and as many as 5,600 miles to Los Angeles) to be on your table, a journey that takes energy, whether it arrived by plane, boat or truck. Remember: It’s said that drinking champagne is like “tasting the stars.” Thanks to energy, you can see those stars in your own glass.
So, there you go – just a few of the holiday staples and their connections to energy. We didn’t even get into the jewelry, apparel and all the other gifts that people often give and receive on this special day. All depend on energy to be given, including natural gas, fuel and other energy sources needed to produce them.
Now, how about some background music and a warm fire? Yep, energy there, too. Happy Valentine’s Day!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joins API after spending 16 years as national editorial writer in the Washington Bureau of The Oklahoman newspaper. In all, he has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, including six years as sports editor at The Washington Times. He lives in Occoquan, Virginia, with his wife Pamela. Mark graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and earned a masters in journalism and public affairs at American University. He's currently working on a masters in history at George Mason University, where he also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Communication Department.