Honey is one of nature’s perfect foods. 100% natural, it’s loaded with nutrients, aids in digestion and tastes incredible.
Why not certified organic? Primarily because of the bees themselves: they can and do travel up to 5km in any direction from the hive when foraging. To meet the standard, the bees have to have enough forage within a 3km radius of the hive that hasn’t been “treated or exposed to substances not in accordance with this standard”. That’s an area of more than 28km2 that has to be monitored for chemical pesticides and that’s simply impossible in our area of the country. Never mind trying to choose amongst the competing certification organizations.
There’s also some debate as to whether or not organic honey should even be possible. Even if nothing in their foraging range is sprayed, they’ll still be exposed to any number of wind-borne pollutants, especially vehicle exhaust. Add to that the news that the USDA is looking at weakening their organic standard for honey and you come to realize that in many cases organic certification is nothing more than a public relations exercise.
So what’s the difference?
Instead, we don’t chemically treat or routinely medicate our bees as is commonly done in commercial apiaries. This leads to a healthier, more wholesome product and stronger, healthier, bees. Over-use of antibiotics in people has led to resistant bacteria, so why should we think that things would be any different with bees? Routinely treating a hive with terramycin to prevent disease doesn’t work and leads to stronger bacteria in the end.
We never heat-treat honey, either. It’s not necessary. Commercially produced honey is pasteurized for purely aesthetic reasons: to delay the inevitable crystallization of the sugars. Honey never goes bad: perfectly edible honey has been found in Egyptian tombs. In fact, there’s some evidence that heat treatment can minimize the myriad health benefits to be had from eating honey.
Honey contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids. The vitamins found in honey include niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid; minerals present include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Just as the colour and flavour of honey varies by floral source, so does the vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and amino acid content of a particular type of honey.