Last week, President and Mrs. Obama hosted France’s President, Francois Hollande for a State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House. State Dinners are a way to celebrate U.S. relations with international friends and allies. Past dinners at the White House during the Obama Administration have hosted visiting heads of state from nations including India, Mexico, China, Germany, and Great Britain. In many ways, these events are an opportunity to demonstrate and celebrate for invited guests and the world, the cultural and culinary heritages of our country.
The State Dinner last week was an excellent example, highlighting the diversity of American agricultural and rural products that our nation has to offer. The dinner celebrated the “best of American cuisine” and featured dry-aged rib eye beef from Colorado, trout from Maine, cheese from Vermont, chocolate from Hawaii, and potatoes from New York, Idaho, and California. The wines served at the dinner included excellent selections featuring California, Washington State, and Virginia offerings. However, beyond the menu itself an equally impressive feature was the visible presence of American cut flowers that decorated and added a stunning visual touch for guests at the White House. The floral arrangements displayed at the dinner included:
- Flowering quince branch – Mississippi
- Weeping willow – South New Jersey
- Scotch Broom – Virginia
- Iris (blue and purple) – California
- Alocasia – Apopka, FL and Zellwood, FL
- Equisetum – East coast Florida, De Leon Springs
- Nandina – East coast Florida, De Leon Springs
- Green Liriope – East coast Florida, De Leon Springs
These floral touches and ornamentals certainly provided a graceful and elegant element for a very special event. In addition, the many U.S. states and regions represented provided an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the diversity of American Grown cut flowers. The U.S. floral industry includes fresh cut flowers, cut cultivated greens, potted flowering plants, foliage plants and bedding/garden plants, making floriculture the third largest U.S. agricultural crop. It is an industry that consists of more than 60,000 small businesses, such as growers, wholesalers, retailers, and distributors.
Best of all, every U.S. state has access to locally grown fresh flowers which supports the U.S. economy with jobs and opportunity. Last week’s State Dinner is just one example of the many contributions the U.S. flower industry is making to our nation – an opportunity that every American can celebrate.