Honey is honey, right? Not so fast. The honey you find in your local market can range from a highly processed toxic sweetener no better than high fructose corn syrup to delicately sweet, medicinally nourishing, golden goodness. But you probably already knew that. So you buy organic, raw or local honey. But is it really as clean as you think?
Recent research has confirmed that up to 75 percent of the world?s honey supply is contaminated with pesticides. That?s a real issue. Not only are these dangerous pesticides, like neonicotinoids, harmful to our health, but they are killing off bee populations in unprecedented numbers. Honeybees are endangered and our incessant pesticide use is one of the main causes. If bee populations decline enough, the entire world’s food system will be affected. In fact, certain foods, like almonds, will be wiped out entirely. Bees are too important, so we need to buy foods that have been grown organically.
So?you’re safe if you buy organic honey, right? Not quite. Organic honey is incredibly difficult (sometimes impossible) to ensure. Since bees are foragers, truly organic honey would require at least 16 square miles of organic plants surrounding the hive. In agriculture-rich areas, that can be a hard thing to come by. Furry little bees also excel at picking up airborne pollutants. Furthermore, any chemicals used to prevent invasive mites or diseases within the hive must meet strict organic standards.
Unfortunately, beeswax has a knack for holding onto chemicals for years. This becomes an issue when new organic beekeepers buy convenient wax starter combs from suppliers, 98 percent of which are tainted with some sort of chemical residue. It is almost inevitable that chemicals will sneak in somewhere down the line between starting a colony and harvesting honey. While truly organic honey may?still exist in wild pockets of the world, it is becoming harder and harder to come by. So buying organic honey may not be worth the money.
Realistically, the most important thing for us as consumers is to do some research and buy honey that is as clean and minimally processed as possible. Pasteurization destroys the beneficial enzymes within honey, so be sure to look for ?raw? on the label.
Wondering how warm is too warm for honey??According to Empowered Sustenance:
?The temperature of an active hive, therefore, is about 95?F (35?C), and the honey is stable and ?alive??or rather, the enzymes in honey that give it the nutritional and beneficial qualities are alive. As long as the temperature of honey does not significantly rise past 95?F/35?C, the honey has not been pasteurized.?
Great, so raw is the way to go. But what about unfiltered, pure, local and organic? All this honey jargon can get confusing, so here?s some clarification:
Organic honey: Honey made from flowers that have not been sprayed with chemicals. It is extremely difficult to find honey that is entirely organic, since bees forage great distance from their hives and wax starter combs can contains chemicals many beekeepers use to prevent mites.
Raw honey: As long as the harvested honey is not heated/pasteurized, even if it has been strained and filtered, it is considered raw. Some raw honeys are very smooth while other, more ruggedly raw honeys may be a little chunky, with healthful bits of beeswax, propolis and royal jelly in the mix.
Unfiltered honey: Honey can either be strained or filtered. Straining honey simply traps?big chunks of beeswax and the like, allowing beneficial buts like pollen to flow through. The filtering process, depending on how extensive, can actually filter out beneficial and nutritious components like pollen. In that case, you might as well drink simple syrup.
Local honey: This is honey that has been harvested within 50 to 100 miles of your town. It is not necessarily organic, raw or unfiltered, but you can speak directly with the beekeeper to learn how and where the honey is made.
100% pure honey. This means relatively little. It just means that the honey hasn?t been cut with other, cheaper products. The honey has likely been pasteurized and ultra-filtered unless otherwise noted. It is definitely not local. In fact, it could originate from the other side of the world from places like China or India.
While buying organic honey is great, buying raw, unprocessed honey is way more important. The amazing people over at Beekeepers Naturals go the extra length to audit their suppliers and scout the surrounding areas to make sure the honey they source is as close to organic as possible. Bees need our support. By buying quality bee products from companies who use safe, bee-enhancing practices, we are saving the endangered bee (and ourselves) from an ominous fate.
The more we support ecologically-concerned companies like Beekeepers Naturals, the more demand there will be for cleaner, organic food in general. Of course, it is also important to switch it up once in a while and support your local, clean beekeepers, too. Just make sure your honey?is always raw, unfiltered and as clean as possible.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.