Q: I want to do something nice for Valentine's Day. Is there such thing as green romance?
A: I know the cool thing to do at this time of year is grumble about how Valentine's Day is an overrated corporate fabrication dreamt up by Laura Secord and the flower cartels, but I like the damn day, okay? And the fact that it happens to be my birthday is entirely beside the point.
The truth is, we know tons of sultry, romantic and oh so green ways to celebrate your love - so why not use some third century Roman martyr as an excuse to show it? But if you hate the herd-like quality of the day that much, celebrate on the 15th (Taoist philosopher Lao Tan's birthday) and tell your lover how his yin completes your yang. Or something to that effect.
What if your sugar-lips loves flowers but you don't want to hand her a bouquet full of toxic blooms picked for pennies by sick workers and flown from Colombia? You're in luck. Eco Flora (416-254-2674 or www.ecoflora.ca) delivers beautiful bouquets of certified fair-trade flowers with organic greenery for $20 and up. They come wrapped in compostable cellophane or in handmade containers made from recycled wood floors. Both Eco Flora and Hatcher Florist on Yonge (www.hatcherflorist.com, 416-221-5557) get their fair-trade roses and such through Sierra Eco-certified farms, where far fewer pesticides are used and greener, fairer practices are in place.
You might think a box of heart-shaped chocolates is about as clichéd as you can get. But what if your honey bunches of oats is a cocoa-happy chocoholic who'll freak if you bail on tradition? Well, now you can skip the conventional stuff grown with nasty pesticides (hormone-disrupting lindane was found on British chocolate a couple of years back) and harvested by child slaves on the Ivory Coast. Toronto-based Delight makes yummy fair-trade chocolate hearts and boxes of chocolate truffles (from $2.99 at Big Carrot on Danforth). Sweets from the Earth makes tasty vegan truffles with organic soy milk, but the cocoa isn't organic (from $1.89 at Noah and Fresh locations).
Lookin' to take your sweet cakes out for a nice meal? Dishing up local produce can also be tough mid-February (and introducing your loved one to the 100-mile diet on Valentine's Day would likely not be appreciated).
But fresh 'n' chic Live Organic Food Bar on Dupont says it uses virtually all organic ingredients in its yummy half-raw, half-cooked vegan menu. Dark 'n' cozy venues like Fressen on Queen West prove eating in a vegan joint can indeed be romantic. And don't forget organic guru and chef extraordinaire Jamie Kennedy, who serves up fine naturally raised meats, organic produce and organic and biodynamic wines at both his wine bar and his restaurant on Church.
Speaking of booze, if you're prepping for a little soiree in, why not stock up on a bottle or two of organic wine? The LCBO sells all kinds of fine organic vinos, like Fetzer's Bonterra and Bodegas Iranzo's Vertus Crianza Tempranillo. It even carries an organic sparkling wine, but you'd have to special order it.
And if you spill a little on yourself, you can always take a bath for two with Druide's Sensual foaming organic bath (from $9.49 at Noah's and Big Carrot). Relax into the, um, dessert stage of your evening with a dab of organic massage oil, available at most health stores. (Noah's and Big Carrot carry biodynamic oils from Weleda, from $15).
If getting frisky near piles of laundry and unwashed dishes doesn't turn your crank, consider splurging on a night at a Fairmont Hotel (like the Royal York on Front). The chain got our vote for the best green initiative of a mainstream business (see www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005-10-27/cover_story18.php).
Sound too swank? How 'bout a rustic cabin for two in Algonquin Park? Balsam Lake, Sandbanks, Awenda and Sturgeon Bay parks also have cottages for rent on provincial land. Or try something in between, like a cozy bed and breakfast that serves up homemade organic meals. (A dozen such places are listed at www.organicvacations.com in Ontario alone, including deluxe inns, alpine lodges, charming farmsteads and gorgeous old mansions.) One final tip: If you're setting the mood with a few beeswax candles, never, and I mean never, think of melting them, ahem, romantically. These high-heat wax sticks will burn the hell out of your body parts.
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