How Sweet It Is

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
While we are on the topic of honey, I just want to put it out there that NOT all honey is equal. I am frustrated with the “business” side of the industry that chooses to market the processed stuff as natural, when in truth there is little left that is natural about it.
Like all living food, heating it to about 117 degrees kills all the enzymes along with many of its health benefits. The USDA and others have made us afraid to eat raw foods, which to me is crazy. And I get particularly nuts when I run into some poor unsuspecting mom who is spending a little more in her already-tight budget for processed honey, thinking she is doing right by her family. I’m not upset at her; I am upset at the machine that markets in a way that deceives her into spending her hard-earned dollars.

Okay, so you might be suspecting at this point that this is a “soap box” topic for me. I know what it is to live on a tight budget and still want to provide the best options for a family. I also know what it feels like to have your body completely break down, and discover that so much of the pain and suffering could have been prevented with proper nutritional education. Unfortunately, this kind of education doesn’t really profit big business, so we often don’t get the whole picture in the classroom or in the marketing strategies of these corporate companies.
So here is the scoop on honey. When purchasing honey, make sure that the label reads “raw” if you want to ensure that you are getting the live enzymes. Watch the date—if it has been sitting on a shelf for too long you may want to find another source. Raw honey (honey that hasn’t been heated and pasteurized) is known for its healing properties. It is considered a super food as it is high in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, carbohydrates and phyto-nutrients. I suggest that you find a local organic honey producer. Go to a site like www.localharvest.org and find someone in your area and buy local. I could do a whole post of the health benefits of eating food that is locally produced. The whole body/soil connection is a fascinating one as well.
We have lost the art (or common sense) of eating live food. Our grandparents used to ferment their foods. Now we have poor substitutes of those foods that we believe are the same in health benefits. They are not. Things like pickles, sauerkraut and bread are all imitations of the “real thing.” I had someone say to me recently that we don’t have more health issues today than 100 years ago, we just hear more about it. I don’t think I believe that. I think today we have more preventable health issues that can be controlled by diet. But we have to be willing to inform ourselves and not just take the word of the marketing folks. We need to read labels and be our own best health advocates.
Honey is an easy change. Following my suggestions will add health and vitality to your life, especially if you find local producers and connect with them. In no time you will be singing, “How sweet it is.”

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  1. calina says:

    I have heard about many of the benefits of eating honey, but I seem to be allergic to it. I recently heard that most bees are force fed corn syrup to keep production levels up. Daughter and I are terribly allergic to corn. Do you know where I could find honey that came about naturally?

    Calina,

    I would go to http://www.localharvest.com and see if you can find a local source. get to know the bee keeper and his/her proceedures. You may want to try  AGAVE NECTAR it is a natural sweeter from the Avave plant. by "honeytree" as an alternative.

  2. Cindy says:

    This is so true about all the food we eat! I grew up on a farm. Mom milked our Jersey cow, Penny, every morning and night. She came in the house with the fresh warm milk, and strained it into a stainless steel milk jug and put it in the frig. No pasterization, no additives, no nothing. We drank that wonderful, sweet milk, sometimes still warm – sometimes ice cold, either way, I loved it! In the morning there was always a thick layer of delicious cream on top that she would skim off and churn into the most delicious butter. Or we would use that cream to put on our Rice Krispies in the morning with fresh red raspberries picked from her raspberry patch. The butter was slathered on her hot homemade bread or rolls, fresh from the oven. All the food we ate was fresh, and natural and delicious. Eggs! Right from the chickens! How much different they taste than the one’s from the store, even if you buy the organic ones -they just don’t taste the same. We didn’t worry about cholesterol or fat, there was too much work, you needed those things for energy! I was so healthy as a kid, we hardly every got sick, and if we had a cold or flu it was over in a hurry. We never took antibiotics, we just has some some good ol Ma Browns cream rubbed on our chests to relieve the congestion. Mom wrapped you up in a blanket and put you in the lounge chair next to the wood stove so you could put your feet up next to it, and you sweat out the cold! Now that I’m in my 50’s, I am so unhappy that the government has decided that raw milk and alot of the food we eat is no longer good for us, and has banned farmers from selling it. Everything that is good in our food is pasterized out, or some additive put in it to "save" us from eating food as it was intended. Wouldn’t they cringe to see us as kids going out to the garden for a snack, eating fresh tomatoes and strawberries straight from the earth with no washing, sometimes still with a little dirt on it! Horrors! What I wouldn’t do right now for a glass of that fresh milk along with a handeful of homemade cookies!

  3. Holly says:

    Although I eat raw honey from a local farmer, I didn’t realize that the honey on the shelf doesn’t always have the same benefits. Thank you for sharing that very important information!!

  4. O'Dell says:

    honey….well, I guess I’ve learned something here today. I was not aware that honey had an expiration date. I thought honey kept for many years. Did they not find some in the tombs of Eygpt or some such place that was thousands of yrs old? I will check at my local farm where I buy veggies- they do have their own honey. I was also not aware that it would be labeled "raw". I have not purchased it in the past because of the cost, but know it can be wonderful for sore throats, and I would imagine it perhaps is good for your heart? I had read that bee stings can help cure arthritis, and use a bee balm on my sore knees, which seems to help. I like to think that as each year passes I am getting better educated on my health…and pass this info on to family & friends that will listen.
    I have developed asthma the past yr and wonder what might help me with that, other than the medication I use now in the inhaler. I am not happy that it is a manmade chemical, but it does help considerably. Do you know if there is anything "natural" that might also help me?
    thank you….love your blog….O’Dell

    O’Dell

    You are correct that Honey has a very long shelf life. What I was referring to is that over time ( just like enzymes) it can loose its potency. For the "best" get the "best" date availlable.

  5. Gary says:

    Rene’… you are right on target with this well spoken/written and timely Bloggie.
    I couldn’t agree more, and while I do trust the Bees, I also believe the usda and fda have "other" interests than our health and well being, and they are not deserving of our Trust.
    Raw honey is a wonderful food, and it is also the only food that never goes bad, although the enzymes you mention do lose vitality over time.
    Other foods have been similarly maligned by BIG agri-business in concert with the fda/usda in the interests of their chemical concotions and corporate profits. Eggs are the best example, for they are truely the most perfect food in all of nature. The latest research (from England) has concluded that consumption of eggs has absolutely no impact on serum cholesterol, and guess who funded those earlier studies that declared eggs to be "bad" for us… yep… BIG agri-business and the feds.
    It is also important to seek organic when it comes to eggs and dairy, as the factory farm products (now illegal in California due to Proposition 2 passing) contain extremely high levels of antibiotics, chemical stimulants and hormones including rBGH.
    Hmmm… now I’ve done a rantlet also ‘eh…
    Thank You for reading, and…
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    Gary
    in Tampa

  6. Kimberly D says:

    If you have allegees you should eat honey from your area. I use to sell honey, and people would ask me if it came locally because of their allgees.

    Also I grew up drinking milk fresh from the cow and am almost 43…now that was milk. My best friend and I would pass a jug around drinking it till it was gone…….yum! My mom would go buy eggs right from the farmer, so fresh they still was "dirty"…lol we just washed the shells. My parents would buy half a cow for winter. Big difference in taste with the beef you get in a store. I worked in a grocery store and the butcher told me the trick to make the hamburger look more red was to mix kool aid in it. You don’t taste the flavor of the kool aid.

  7. Holly C says:

    My sisters and I were just talking over the 4th about the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits our grandmother used to make for us whenever we visited her. She had a huge farm kitchen and even though she had an electric stove for years she loved to use her old wood cookstove to make this. I think I am going to find some local, raw honey tomorrow and try to resurrect the old recipe

  8. Diana says:

    This is so true !
    Most folks want to live a healthier life, but are fooled by these marketing tricks.
    It is very aggravating.

    I spend about half (or more) of my time teaching folks about organic gardening and natural living in a few places, namely my Squidoo writings.

    So many people think that if they see "natural" on the label, it is true.
    I show them to read the labels to see what it REALLY is.

    By the way Rene, I found your blog through twitter, I am Relax_Naturally

    Thank you for teaching folks how to be more natural too 😉

    Organically Yours,
    Diana

    Hey Diana,

    Thanks, See you on twitter…

  9. doreen says:

    Thanks for this information, Rene. I attended a lecture earlier this summer given by an MD who is the head of alternative and preventative medicine at the University of Michigan, and he said that honey won out in head to head trials with leading cough medicines for suppressing a cough. It works for me, and it’s delicious!

    God save us from the Food Police.

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