The BBC documentary, Jimmy and the Wild Honey Hunters, provides a stunning look at traditional honey-hunting in Nepal. Climbing vertical rope-ladders, which eventually become their work-station, the hunters-turned-gatherers work suspended high above rock-floors, extending a long bamboo-spear to meticulously-cut honey-comb wedges from cave-embedded beehives.
This is as beautiful an example of “sustainable”, as one can find. For thousands of years, the soil, flowers and bees have faithfully carried on, crafting honey’s antimicrobial, antioxidant, and hygroscopic properties, creating a nutrient-dense treasure as useful for eating, as it is for medicine. Based on centuries of experience, these ancient-people continue in their traditional food-gathering, having no need for science to confirm what their bodies know – that this is food made to sustain life.
“Choose whole food sweeteners over refined. Natural, simple sugars are most abundant in fruits, raw honey, maple syrup, root vegetables, squash, and milk. Common sources of refined simple sugars that we should avoid are brown and white sugar, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, agave and yacon syrups. Naturally sweet foods are linked together with the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes needed for their digestion and assimilation by the body. In very moderate amounts in the context of a whole foods diet, these foods are healthful. But when the sugars in these foods are removed by refining, the sugars now exist separate from the nutrients. These “skeletonized” sugars work quite differently in the body, providing nothing but empty calories that drain the body’s nutrient reserves.” Modernizing Your Diet With Traditional Foods, Weston Price
I buy honey from several honey-hunters located within 25-miles of my home. Having no need for precarious rope ladders, my beekeepers are no less committed or passionate then are the tribes practicing ancient honey-hunting methods.
There are hundreds of apiary or beekeeper sites to be found on the internet, as well as numerous professional organizations offering educational material about honey’s qualities, benefits and at-home storage techniques.
Our every-day honey is a high-glucose variety, a common honey which dominates both the large and small-producer market.
“Glucose” in real, raw, unfiltered honey is naturally-occurring. In recent years, however, unscrupulous marketers, especially the Chinese, have added water to their high-glucose honey, or glucose syrup created from refined glucose, dextrose and maltose sugars.
Another unscrupulous “honey-laundering” tactic is the addition of high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap, unhealthy ingredient. The motive for engaging in such unethical and immoral business practices is greed-driven, with no regard for health.
It’s simple to find local beekeepers through internet searches using “apiary” or “beekeeper”, along with the name of your town or state.
Here’s a list of questions we’ve found beneficial in finding perfect honey….
- Is their honey is raw and unfiltered honey (if not, move on to the next one on your list)
- If they fumigated their honey against the wax moth (move on, if they have)
- If and how heat was used in its extraction from the comb; if so, did the temperature exceed 100° F (move on, if above 100° F but best situation is no use of heat)
- High-fructose or high-glucose;
- Packaged in plastic or glass (glass is better; see here for storage tips)
- Liquid or creamed; (liquid will be less expensive; creamed, more money)
- If creamed, did they use a honey-seed/starter or dextrose? (if dextrose, a corn-derivative, DO NOT BUY )
- Prices (larger quantities should result in lower per-unit cost, whether pint, quart or gallon)
Most local apiaries have high-glucose honey available in liquid form, during harvest-time. To preserve their high-glucose harvest, it is crucial that they convert their liquid honey to a creamed-honey form. This is a preserving process done by controlling the natural, spontaneous crystallization process by adding a “starter” or a “seed”.
The source of the “starter” or “seed” may be from several sources: dextrose (avoid!), portions of last-year’s creamed honey (acceptable if it wasn’t created with dextrose), or even large-crystal rock-hard honey that has been finely powdered.
Creamed honey is labor-intensive, so expect to pay a higher price. If you’d rather create your own creamed honey, it is a fairly easy, straight-forward process following our recipes for Pickl-It Creamed Honey.
A word of caution: Dextrose
Be sure to ask your local beekeeper if they use a honey-based “seed”/“starter”, to create their creamed honey OR, instead, use powdered dextrose.
While dextrose is efficient, cost-effective, and more profitable for honey marketers, it is not a traditional honey-based “starter” or “seed”. (Source: “The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture”, A.I. Root, E.R. Root, 2005, page 740)
Dextrose, often derived from corn, most of which is genetically modified, is not well-tolerated by people who have “gut” and digestion issues.
Because dextrose does not have to be listed on the ingredient label of creamed honey, the only way you’ll know if it was used, is to ask.
Health & Nutrition Resources for Honey – Handy honey information
What’s In Your Honey? Maybe Chemical Fumigants Used to Control the Wax Moth – Several chemical fumigants effectively used in the past are aluminum phosphide, methyl bromide, ethylene dibromide (EDB) and paradichlorobenzene (PDB). Unfortunately, only two (aluminmum phosphide and PDB) remain legal, but their future is in doubt. The chances are good, therefore, that beekeepers will be left without any means to chemically control wax moth.)
Honey Laundering – High-theft crimes at your expense!
Barefoot Beekeeper – Beautiful resource, rich with helpful information!
|by Kathleen in Tips | Permalink|
Did you know...
Hops and honey was originally used in the making of mead (or, Sima which is the Finnish version), a lightly-fermented, slightly-alcoholic season beverage. As honey became more expensive, white and brown sugars were substituted. Using hops and honey is worth every effort, creating a taste of tradition.
—Traditional Fermented Honey Mead
My husband, former F-15 mechanic, is very impressed with your design. So impressed, that he may just get into fermenting and be willing to drink kefir. Yay! Thanks so much.
—Jen R., Ohio