Before I get into honey 101, let me tell you a joke…What type of Bee makes milk? Wait for it… BOOB BEE!!!! Ok, now I am ready. The U.S. consumes about 400 million pounds of honey a year. But where is all this honey coming from? Have you ever tasted real honey? Doubt it! The first taste of this magnificent brown cloud of heaven came in Marin County right off the honey comb. AMAZING with a capital A! It was seriously like the best shot of espresso or some other sort of crazy purest element that mother nature has to offer (I would say coke but that wouldn’t be right, whoops, I just did). My tongue was bombarded with flavors I had never savored before. I thought to myself, what the hell have I been eating all these years from the store? That was not honey, THIS was honey!
Nutritional Benefits: One tablespoon of honey has 64 calories. Many people prefer honey as a healthier alternative to sugar because of its vitamins and minerals that can aid in digestion and its anti-oxidant components (more on that later). Local honey should come from the bees that live in your area. This will boost your immune system and protect against seasonal allergies; you can even buy bee pollen which is great in smoothies! Natural honey is not subject to any heating or processing; whereas, table sugar is highly processed. The heating and processing kills all of the naturally occurring trace minerals and important enzymes.
Types of honey: The color and flavor of honey depends on the nectar source. Darker honey (higher antioxidant properties), raw honey (better healing properties), buckwheat honey (sore throat and coughing relievers), clover honey (most abundant USA honey). Also, there is Manuka honey (found in the flowers of New Zealand’s manuka bush and contains high levels of additional, non-peroxide antibacterial elements that other honeys don’t called UMF aka Unique Manuka Factor).
Health and curative benefits of honey: Some key health benefits of honey are: 1. Honey is a natural energy booster, 2. Honey helps build your immune system and 3. Honey is a natural remedy for many ailments. Its natural sugars play an important role in preventing fatigue during exercise and stressful times during the day. Glucose in honey is absorbed by the body quickly and gives an immediate energy boost, while the fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy. According to the book Honey Revolution by Dr Ron Fessenden, scientists have found floral flavonoids in honey. These traces of bioflavonoids, aka antioxidants, have powerful influences with fighting free radicals. The antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties can also improve digestive and help you stay healthy. Honey helps with sore throats, cuts and speeds up recovery from burns. The viscosity of honey provides a protective barrier. The hydrogen peroxide it contains is released slowly, killing germs in the wound and/or abrasion. You also have Propoli, a medicinal marvel from the beehive. Research has shown that it offers antiseptic, antibiotic, antibacterial, and even antiviral properties.
Where do we get our honey; China?? In 2006, China accounted for over 25% of the worlds exported honey. More than a third of all the honey consumed in the U.S. has likely been smuggled in from China. Chinese honey has become synonymous with ‘tainted honey’ and ‘honey laundering’; oh there goes Chris with his witty sense of humor! No, I am serious. Honey laundering is used to avoid paying miniscule tariffs that are imposed by various countries on Chinese honey. China will often route their product through other countries such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia and the product is bottled and then labeled as a product of the country that bottles it. Millions of pounds of honey have entered the US due to honey laundering. Now that sounds politically correct, right? Then we have tainted honey, which is seen by Chinese brokers as mixing sugar water, malt sweeteners, corn syrup, barley malt, sweetener with un poquito of actual honey or worse, tainted with pesticides, illegal animal antibiotics, and heavy metals. Recently, many exporters have eliminated the honey completely and just use thickened, colored, natural or chemical sweeteners labeled as honey. Ok Chris, this is getting semi-depressing!
What we can do
Buy local! If you are not a fan of farmers markets, then look for trusted countries such as suppliers in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Uruguay and Mexico. Here are a few helpful pointers for using honey.
1. Next time before you go for a workout, take a spoon of honey with your protein to enable you to go for the extra mile.
2. If you are feeling low and lethargic in the morning, instead of reaching out for a can of carbonated energy drink, try honey. Spread it on hot toast or replace the sugar in your coffee or tea with it for a refreshing surge of NATURAL energy.
3. Add it into your cake mixtures or your special baking remedy’s instead of white sugar. I have just volunteered myself to be your own personal taste tester! You’re welcome.
In the end, honey is quite amazing! We need to be purchasing local, farmer’s market honey and nothing else. They also offer pollen pellets that help with seasonal allergens. If you want further information about bees and their honey, check out the reference below. The movie Vanishing of the Bees is also a great recommendation for documentary films. We need to watch our carbon footprint and do our part (oohhhh boy; the inner hippie in Chris is coming out, stop it!) It can begin with purchasing local honey and not the stuff at the stores that is imported in from China. We need to be careful because big time conglomerates like Monsanto are beginning to take control (read the article below about Monsanto purchasing Beeologics, a small company best known for its “groundbreaking research” – SCARY! Keep smiling, reading books, BEEhaving and Keep Showing Up!