Is there anything more classically Valentine’s Day than chocolate and flowers? (Probably, but when the author was asked to do a love poem dedicated to natural gas he hit an absolute brick wall, so we’re going with chocolate and flowers.) Read on to learn how natural gas is an integral part of your favorite Valentine’s Day gifts!
Flowers have long been a Valentine’s staple, and ensuring that we all have the flowers we need to shower our loved ones in love requires successful flower farms, and fertilizer. Whether grown in a greenhouse, as many delicate flowers such as roses typically are, or in an open field, it’s a safe bet that any flowers you might gift or be gifted today were grown using a modern fertilizer made from natural gas. Modern nitrogen and ammonia fertilizers are heavily dependent on natural gas, both as a physical feedstock and a source of affordable energy for the process. The affordability of that energy matters – the process used to produce most modern fertilizers is highly energy intensive, and the fact that natural gas is one half to one third the cost of alternatives like electricity makes a huge difference in costs of production, and therefore the cost of your flowers.
Natural gas also plays a major role in chocolate production. After cacao beans are harvested, fermented and dried, they must be roasted. The temperature is kept stable to avoid burning the beans through the use of natural gas, which provides an affordable, reliable and easily controllable source of energy. Next, the chocolate has to be cracked, winnowed, ground, and conched (in other words, continuously mixed and aerated). At this point, the chocolate is tempered through repeated and careful heating and cooling. As you probably guessed, natural gas is once again the most reliable, affordable and controllable energy source for this process.
Finally, the heated chocolate is poured into molds and allowed to solidify, before being packaged in a packaging that is almost certainly made using natural gas.
This Valentine’s Day, as we celebrate love and affection with gifts of flowers and chocolates, let’s also acknowledge the role of natural gas in making these gestures of love possible. It’s a reminder of the many ways in which this resource touches our lives, beyond heating our homes and cooking our meals. Natural gas, in its own way, contributes to the warmth and sweetness of our most special moments.
Remember, when you’re holding that bouquet or unwrapping a chocolate bar, natural gas has been working behind the scenes to make your Valentine’s Day just a little bit more special. So, here’s to the unsung hero of our Valentine’s Day celebrations: natural gas, making the day possible in more ways than one.
First appeared on www.aga.org