May 15, 2012

Don't be Fooled by Organic Honey

While visiting the local grocery stores and farmers markets lately, I've noticed a bit of a disturbing trend, companies and farmers charging exuberant prices for organic honey. As much as I would like to be able to tell honey bees which flower, bush, tree, pond, and puddle to gather their pollen, nectar, and water from, it is very much out of anyone's control. Thus the reason to be very wary of honey labeled as "organic". Now unless a giant operation knows exactly what comes in contact with the over 6,000 acres that surrounds their hives, the bees will probably be bringing in what they feel like. At first I thought perhaps there was a way to completely enclose the bees in a green house to prevent them from foraging unknown areas. But, apparently bees don't survive very well in enclosed areas.

Do you think that just because it has the USDA Organic seal, it's completely organic? The 'USDA Organic' seal does not ensure that the honey was produced in the U.S. and, furthermore, it does not certify that the honey is 100% organic. Food products labeled "organic" must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. Who knows what comprises that other 5%.

Now if you see a label that states no chemicals were used in the management of the hive and that nothing was added to the final product, that would be a simple, honest statement. Even though I don't use any chemicals in my hive or on my property, I wouldn't claim to have organic honey because it just wouldn't be true.

Another important point to think about is raw honey. A lot of commercial honey producers pasteurize their honey. Raw honey contains healthy enzymes and natural vitamins. Heating honey to above 150 degrees kills most (after all it is still sweet) of the good elements of honey. Comb honey is one type of honey product that you can be sure is raw, unprocessed, and unpasteurized.

Next time you need honey, buy local, that way you can ask all the nitty gritty questions you want.