Sweet tips for buying Local honey

Honey, oh how SWEET it is!! The benefits of raw honey are tremendous –27 minerals, 22 amino acids, 5,000 live enzymes, hydrogen peroxide, protective nutrients and antioxidants.  Together, these kill bacteria and fungus, boost the digestive system and protect your body from cell damage. Plus it tastes SO GOOD!!! I’ve learned a lot about honey since starting my elderberry venture last year and have some tips to share, mainly about how to buy it.

Labeling requirements for honey drive me nuts – they pretty much don’t exist! I’m a label reader and stickler for ingredients.  I want to know what my family and I are consuming.  Apiarists (bee keepers) aren’t required to disclose their ingredients. It’s surprisingly common practice for honey to be diluted with corn syrup, which just blows my mind. If your honey is clear and you could read a newspaper thru it, highly likely it’s loaded down with corn syrup (and I seriously doubt they use non-GMO). A good test is to put it in the freezer – real honey will crystallize and “honey sauce” will get gummy.

For allergy relief it is critical to have local honey. Bees collect pollen from the aggravating foliage and it becomes part of the honey. Consuming it is a form of immunotherapy and can reduce or eliminate symptoms. Prior to my elderberry venture and discovering Herb’s Honey I purchased from a popular local supplier assuming their honey harvested in the Charlotte area. Not the case, their number of hives doesn’t match consumer demand and the majority of their honey comes from a big honey manufacturer in Florida. Make sure your honey is labeled “Made in NC” – if it says “Made in USA” it isn’t local.

Raw, unprocessed honey is what you want to buy for health benefits. It’s full of beneficial live enzymes that need to be preserved. Once honey is pasteurized its pretty much dead and just a sweetener. One term that is really confusing is “pure”, which means it has no additives. Pure might mean that it’s raw, but it also could mean pasteurized. Look for the words “RAW”, “UNPASTURIZED”, “UNPROCESSED” or even “UNFILTERED.” Raw honey has no additives and it has not been processed so all benefits have been maintained.

Bottom line, know your beekeeper and ask questions. Just because it comes from the farmer’s market doesn’t mean you’re good to go. Look for “Made in NC”, ask if they process the honey and don’t be afraid to inquire about corn syrup. If it’s super clear, keep looking or do the freezer test.

I only use Herb’s Honey for my syrup – John Caudle is passionate about his bees and runs a beautiful operation. His honey is not only insanely delicious but I also love how his honey is seasonal, which for allergies is HUGE. You’re consuming what is currently in bloom, which makes a big difference for relief! Tip: If you’re looking to use honey as a sweetener (not for allergies, unless you live in the NC mountains!) his Blue Ridge honey is SUPER sweet and you won’t need as much. Go out to the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market and he’s there every Saturday sampling – also sold at several retailers around town listed on his website at www.herbshoneypot.com

Stephanie Rickenbaker