Honey and humans go way, way back. It’s a food that’s been revered by cultures spanning the globe, prized for its taste and medicinal qualities.
Honey has both folklore and science behind it with purported benefits ranging from improved sleep, better athletic performance and recovery, as a healing agent and moisturizer. It’s of course also used as a sweetener for better health and taste.
To get the most out of your honey is to eat it the way our ancestors did, raw and unprocessed.
Most local beekeepers don’t have the infrastructure to process their honey. Not to mention, there’s no compelling reason for them to do so. So when you buy local honey, you’re almost assuredly getting it raw, just as you should be.
HERE ARE 7 REASONS YOU SHOULD GET RAW, LOCAL HONEY
1. Raw Honey Contains a Host of Healthy Nutritional Needs.
A lot of people get local honey as a defense against allergies, While the allergy relief benefit may be anecdotal at best, (science suggests it doesn’t work), raw honey does have a lot of medical benefits that have been studied and proven.
While honey is mostly a collection of simple carbs, it also has an assortment of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, amino acids and has antibacterial qualities. “Honey has been reported to exhibit an inhibitory effect on yeast, fungi, and some viruses.” Honey has also been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent and work on skin wounds and gastrointestinal issues.
NOTE: DO NOT GIVE HONEY TO INFANTS UNDER THE AGE OF ONE. Honey has trace amounts of Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism. While perfectly safe for most, their digestive systems are not yet equipped to handle it.
2. It’s Actually Honey.
According to a report from Food Safety News, most chain and national brands of honey, aren’t actually honey. The FDA states that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey.
There’s a difference between being filtered and ultra-filtered. Ultra-filtration is a procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down, and forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen.
When you remove the pollen, there is no way of testing the source of the honey and where it was made. The origins become dubious, and the resulting “honey” often becomes diluted and processed with high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners.
3. Many of the Health Benefits Are Lost When Honey is Ultra-filtered and Heated Above 100 degrees.
Modern large-scale processing techniques filter the honey to increase clarity and heat it to avoid crystallization. It’s done almost entirely for presentation, to provide a more uniform color and retain viscosity. Crystallized honey is perfectly safe BTW. The ultra-filtrations process really doesn’t do anything and has no real benefit for the consumer. The process eliminates or partially destroys the vitamins, nutrients and enzymes found in the honey.
4. You Know Where it Came From.
With large-scale honey production, unless it’s a reputable brand, the source of the honey is dubious at best, and downright illegal at worst.
Chances are if you don’t know where it’s from it’s probably imported. The majority of honey in the US is now imported from four major sources; Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and China.
Since the pollen was removed in the production process, there is no way to track the origin. In which case, it’s almost always assumed to be of Chinese origin. Chinese honey doesn’t have a good reputation, and the FDA doesn’t do a great job of testing it, despite warnings that it occasionally is contaminated with chloramphenicol and other animal antibiotics. (See Food Safety News article for more.)
5. You Support Your Local Beekeepers.
Related to above, imported honey is much cheaper, and is heavily subsidized which helps to drive beekeepers out of business. When the retail price is much cheaper than the cost of production for a small to medium scale beekeepers, they have a harder time remaining viable.
This hurts everyone on multiple levels. One, we already have a declining bee population that is in dire need of attention. Eliminating the beekeeper is one way to ensure we lose even more bees. And we know, without the bees, we risk losing up to 80% of our food.
6. It’s Better for the Environment.
That imported honey has to come from somewhere far away. Over water, air and road that little plastic bear full of processed “honey” leaves a huge carbon footprint. Local honey causes less pollution and saves natural resources.
Our Marketplace honey, for example, traveled no further than a mile. In fact, a third of it was harvested from our rooftop hives. Our rooftop honey traveled no further than a couple hundred feet, from hive to the jar. The only mechanical part of the process was the extraction. All of our power is sourced from renewables too.
7. It Has a Completely Unique and Varied Taste.
The production process of large-scale “honey” has an objective to make the “honey” as homogenous as possible, and the process often strips the honey of it’s distinctive flavor.
Honey is the result of pollen and nectar collected from the local environment which produces distinct flavors in different seasons. Alameda honey will differ from honey harvested in the midwest for example.
The Marketplace bees forage around town making a honey that is distinct to our area and season. It’s something to take pride in.
As you can see, like a lot of things, buying locally produced goods and food as a huge impact on our personal and communal health and society.
Where to Get Raw, Local Honey.
We recently harvested our Marketplace honey. In all, we got over 350 pounds from 4 hives on our rooftop, and 8 other hives we sponsor across Alameda. It went through a simple process. Our beekeeper, Mike Vigo of The Bee Ranchers, led the harvesting process. He was in the store to first scrape the wax from the frames, the frames were then spun in an extracting centrifuge, the honey was roughly filtered to remove bee parts and wax and was then bottled.
The Marketplace honey is now on our shelves. It will sell out fast, so get yourself some today.
Find your favorite and stock up.