Honey is a globally acclaimed and treasured resource that enriches many holiday celebrations by its incorporation into special recipes and use in cultural traditions. When considering what to give your loved ones, friends, neighbors or coworkers for Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa—give the gift of honey. Honey has long been the symbol of sweetness, good health and prosperity and these are wonderful wishes to pass on to others for 2020.
While many elements of our traditional Thanksgiving meal differ from those that were on the menu for the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621, the bounty of the New England harvest is a universal theme. The desire to share hospitality and good fortune with others and give thanks for abundance is also transcendent throughout the centuries.
Honey bees don’t slow down at this time of year like their often maligned cousins, the wasps. You might have noticed that wasps seem more abundant and annoying at fall festivals, outdoor cook-outs or weekend picnics. In fact, they are because they’ve switched from needing protein to feed their young (e.g., other insects) to craving carbohydrates (sweet beverages are a favorite) before they die later in the season—one last hurrah!
Did you know that honey is considered a "superfood?" Superfoods are typically raw or unprocessed foods rich in compounds that are good for one’s health. Other superfoods include blueberries, salmon, kale, broccoli, and acai fruit. Honey, along with other flavonoid-rich foods like berries, teas, red grapes, red wine, citrus fruit, onions, parsley, legumes, and dark chocolate can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease by boosting cellular antioxidant defenses. Flavonoids may also contribute to the maintenance of brain function.
As you prepare for your summer vacation, a leisurely afternoon at the beach or pool or a long hike or bike ride in the countryside, be sure to pack a small container of honey. Honey is a helpful, natural remedy that has many benefits. Here are some of our favorite uses for honey during the summer.
Watermelon is always a welcome treat during the summer months with its dark and light green stripes and its sweet and juicy red fruit. But without honey bees, there would be no seedless watermelons and seeded watermelons would be far less common and also misshapen and stunted. Bees have to work very hard to pollinate a seedless watermelon, making up to two-dozen pollination visits for a single fruit to form.
Did you know that one could paint with beeswax and make luminous paintings? This specific art form, known as encaustic painting, dates back to the Ancient Greeks who used pigmented wax to decorate their warships. Because they are wax-based, encaustic paints can be applied on top of one another to form raised reliefs, which result in dimensional optical effects that are startlingly lifelike. The oldest surviving encaustic panel paintings are the Romano-Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits from the 1st Century BC.
Food-safety experts have discovered that much of the honey sold in the US isn’t really honey, but a mixture of corn or rice syrup, malt sweeteners or cheap, unrefined sugar and only a tiny amount of real honey. Even worse, much of the honey imported from Asia—often via a circuitous route through another country—has been found to contain lead and other heavy metal toxins, as well as drugs like chloramphenicol, a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
People who adore honey typically fall into two categories: those that use it for specific and beloved rituals (e.g. spreading it on their English muffin or sipping it in their tea) and those who are open to trying it in as many different culinary opportunities as possible (e.g., drizzling it over a salad, incorporating it into a marinade, baking it into bread, etc.). Regardless of what type of honey-lover you happen to be, have you ever asked yourself the question, “What is honey, exactly?”