Honey: Eat, Make, Give
This past weekend, we sold our honey at a local holiday craft fair. While most of the people who came by the Bee America booth were looking for gifts for family, friends and coworkers, there were a few who were curious to try our local honey. Inevitably, these were who people had lots of questions about beekeeping, the plight of the honey bees and environmental conservation. Reflecting upon this event, I realized that there are three honey-themed activities one could engage in this holiday season: Eat, Make and Give.
Honey is one of the original comfort foods. Human cultures have been keeping honey bees for thousands of years, prizing the golden liquid they harvest from hives for its rich, nourishing sweetness. From a nutritional perspective, honey is comprised of glucose, fructose, and minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphate, sodium chlorine, potassium and magnesium. Slightly acidic, pH between 3.2 and 4.5, honey naturally prevents the growth of bacteria, while its antioxidant components eliminate free radicals.
Like fine wine and the terroir that creates its special “sense of place”, the taste, smell and color of honey varietals depend upon the specific flora that was used to produce it. Unfortunately, a shocking 75% of the honey sold in grocery stores in the United States is not true honey due to the absence of pollen. (Source: Food Safety News; read the full article for a list of honey brands tested and failed):
The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey. However, the FDA isn't checking honey sold here to see if it contains honey.
Bee America was created to bring you great honey, a variety of flavors and sweetness you can trust. It all started simply, with a desire for pure honey that we could trust. From the hives in our yard we enjoyed that perfect sweetness. While the honey from our yard is delicious, it is only a single flavor. We started exploring the vast array of amazing honey flavors. Our family searched for honey that we would share with your family. Honey, which is wholesome and pure. Honey, where we can taste the bees producing a miracle of nature.
We often have people ask us about cooking and baking with honey. My previous blog post has some great tips for how to make food better by including honey in familiar recipes. We also have some great recipes on our website. During the holiday season, people often want to make their traditional family recipes, but there are adventurous souls who like try an inviting-looking recipe they come across in the newspaper, magazine or new cookbook. I’d like to recommend the “Fresh Honey Cookbook: 84 Recipes from a BeeKeeper’s Kitchen” by Laurey Masterton. In this gem of a book, Ms. Masterton highlights different varietals of honey, complete with honey-tasting suggestions and delicious savory and sweet recipes. Throughout the book, she shares her experiences as a beekeeper and helps the reader develop a profound appreciation of honey bees through captivating glimpses into the life of a hive. The book, which is organized by the four seasons of the year, contains gorgeous photographs and lots of interesting and fun facts about bees. My favorite recipe is the pork tenderloin with Orange Blossom Honey-Mustard. Enjoy!
Each year, our children get to pick which charity Bee America should contribute to during the holidays. This year they chose Heifer International and the gift of beehives to families living in developing countries. As Featured In the December 2013 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, “Right On The Money”, a Heifer honey bee gift donation includes a bee package, hive, box and training in beekeeping techniques. Families who receive this gift hope to increase their annual income through the sale of honey, wax and pollen they obtain from their hives. Healthy and productive beehives can increase by two-fold the fruit and vegetable crop yields of small farms through pollination. Please think about donating bees in someone’s honor/memory today. Your contribution will help a family raise itself out of poverty while caring for the environment at the same time. What a sweet and sustainable gift for your loved one and the Earth!