by Matthew Petrelis
Thanks to an unseasonably mild winter across the United States, most climates were treated to an extended spring season. Flowers began sprouting a month earlier than normal and they weren’t alone. With flowers come bees, and the above-average temperatures coaxed them out of their hives to get to work.
The honey-making season had nearly a four-week head start, which means more honey at your local farmers’ markets this year. The benefits of purchasing and consuming honey made locally versus the brands available at the grocery store are plentiful.
Nearly 75% of the honey that ends up on supermarket shelves has been processed to the point where it does not share the same properties—or taste—as true honey. The product has been filtered beyond recognition, so much so that all evidence of its origins has been removed. This evidence, a biological marker in the form of pollen, aids in identifying where the honey was made.
Aside from the benefits of pollen in honey, which I will get to, if you don’t know where your honey is from, how do you know it’s safe? A list of contaminants found in store-bought honey can be obtained by doing a quick internet search, but suffice to say, you don’t want antibiotics or lead with your cup of tea. Those are ingredients that were found in one quarter of Asian honey inspected in 2009, the kind most commonly found in your grocery aisle.
For that reason alone, local honey is the superior choice, but there are plenty more. When you purchase regionally-produced honey, you support your local economy while also creating a greater community for yourself and your neighbors. Second, the honey comes directly from the area where you live, which directly aids your health (this is where the pollen comes into play). If you have allergies to certain types of flowers in your area, consuming honey that contains the pollen of these flowers serves as a natural vaccine to reduce those allergy symptoms. Additionally, local honey is more flavorful than anything you could find at the store.
Unlike mass-produced jars of honey, local raw honey is spreadable and perfectly sweet, making it a healthy substitute for butter on fresh baked rolls. It’s also flavorful in tea or various baking recipes. Additionally, this honey has been filtered but not over-processed, leaving the natural taste, texture, and beneficial properties intact.
Some last benefits of local honey include:
- Aids with sore throats
- Acts as a cough suppressant
- Is a natural antiseptic for wounds
- Helps minimize symptoms of morning sickness
- Is a natural digestive aid
I know there’s a big movement to be a locavore among foodies, but there’s no other food with the wide range of benefits that local honey provides. Be sure the jar you have at home was made close by.
Matthew Petrelis is a … deep breath … Blogger/Writer/Photographer/Cardiac Sonographer/Food Creator/Food Destroyer/Cocktail Drinker from Massachusetts.” Read Matthew’s blog, The Things I Think About, and follow him on Twiter at @petrelis.