Honey Honey Honey
It has been used for centuries for its sweetness and healing properties, but now, as with most foods, with new farming techniques and processing methods, there are different types of honey you can consume and they are far from equal!
This is the real deal! It is what the bees make from the nectar. It is unheated, unprocessed and contains trace minerals, B and C vitamins, magnesium and enzymes. Raw honey is antibacterial, anti fungal and antiseptic. It comes hard.
This is the gooey, clearer golden liquid that the majority of the population buy. It has been heated to over 70 degree celsius to give it the smooth texture and a "longer" liquid shelf life. However the heat destroys all the wonderful properties that honey contains and therefore you end up with a sweet food product that tastes great but has no nutritional value and you might as well be eating white sugar.
There is also the issue that the honey has a high pesticide residue, as the bees often get the pollen from flowers that have been sprayed with herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. A recent Greenpeace study found that most bee pollen is contaminated with at least 17 poisonous pesticides.
Taking a step further... in the US (and I would not rule out Australia and most honey that comes from China) studies found that 76% of honey in the supermarkets had undergone ultra-filtered processing that leaves no trace of pollen at all in the honey.... So therefore the question is, if there is no pollen at all, what is it?
Certified Organic honey has to come from bees and bee hives that are 5 km away from any crops that are exposed to pesticides, where the bees are not fed antibiotics (yes, commercial honey bees often are) and where only organic materials have been utilised in bee keeping equipment. It also cannot be heated over 45 degrees.
Manuka honey is made by bees that feed on the flowers of the Manuka bush, also known as the tea tree, in New Zealand. The honey is distinctively flavoured, darker and richer than other honey. It contains high concentrations of another antibacterial compound called methylglyoxal, which is a natural by-product of glucose produced by humans and animals and slowly releases antiseptic Hydrogen Peroxide effectively into infection sites. Methylglyoxal is found in a variety of honeys, however research into more than 80 honeys from around the globe found that levels in Manuka Honey were unique - up to 70 times higher than those in other honey!
I recommend staying away from commercial honey and when using honey for its medicinal properties choose organic raw and/or manuka honeys. I personally do not eat honey for 3 reasons
1. Honey is converted into glucose and fructose in the body. Fructose is the sugar that causes problems for our health and wellbeing. Honey is 40% fructose. It is turned to fat immediately by the body, rather than being used as energy, and causes a host of other issues
2.The bees make honey for the bee... not for me to take.
3. Ultimately it is bee vomit... something about this grosses me out.
The plight of the honey bee is one that is close to my heart with millions and millions of them dying a year now from "colony collapse syndrome". My next blog will look at this and the welfare issues that occur with commercial beekeeping and the difference with the holistic bee keeping approach.