Local Honey: Why it Matters
As many of you know, in addition to being fiber and produce farmers, we at That'll Do Farm are also beekeepers.
We have six hives of Italian honey bees that help pollinate many of the crops we grow. We've been happy with the pollination rate and believe we have higher crop yields, all thanks to our hard working bees.
And one of the benefits of keeping bees is the honey they produce.
Pure, raw wildflower honey. It tastes like a sunny, warm spring day on the farm. And that's a good thing.
But not all honey is created equal. Customers sometimes question the price of our honey and tell us they can buy honey much cheaper at their local WalMart or grocery store.
And the truth is, they can.
But what are they really buying? According to a study by Food Safety News, they are not buying honey. Most of the big box stores and other retailers are selling honey that doesn't actually contain the main ingredient that makes honey honey -- and that is pollen.
Professor Vaughn Bryant of Texas A&M, an expert on pollen, said that once you take the pollen out, the only thing you've got is sugar. "The pollen does in fact contain amino acids, it contains starches, it also contains fats and vitamins and various kinds of minerals. A lot of people eat honey because of the nutritional value."
True raw honey from your local beekeeper is minimally processed. The frames are removed from the hive, a warm uncapping knive is used to open up the individual cells and then the frames are put into an extractor that spins them quite quickly, thus forcing the honey out.
The honey is then strained to remove wax and any debris, but not strained finely enough to remove the pollen.
Then it is bottled up, labeled and ready for market. Nothing like sugar, food coloring, or corn syrup is ever added.
Honey from local sources will crystalize over time. But that does not affect the taste or quality of the honey. If you don't like crystalized honey, simply simmer a pan of water on the stove, place your jar in the water and turn the water off. The warmth of the water will quickly restore your honey to its slow, flowing form.
If you are a honey lover, I urge you to go out and visit your local beekeeper. Tour the beeyard. Ask lots of questions. Every beekeeper I know loves to talk about their hives and their honey.
Knowing your beekeeper, like knowing your produce farmer or meat farmer, is the best way to assure the highest quality of food reaches your table.