February 13, 2010
Sweet Honey Love
Some of my fondest memories as a child involve watching my Grandma, an avid beekeeper, go out behind the old chicken coop shed where she treasured the tiny buzzing creatures that worked so hard to make such a sweet treat. She would wear a net suit from heat to toe and I was intrigued by the increased buzzing sound that they would make as she grew more near to care for them.
Naturally, my Grandmas love of honey rubbed off on me as a little girl and I loved that the little squeezable teddy bear jar of honey was packaged with love from her to me. My family grew up savoring Grandma’s natural honey comb and honey spreads. That love of honey has stayed with me ever since. I can’t remember a period in the past 20+ years that I have gone without the savory treat in my daily tea, toast, desert, fruit, bread, I even like it on veggies and nuts!
As one of mother nature’s most precious foods, honey has been prized for it’s medicinal properties as much as it’s sweet, rich flavor. As a healing agent, it contains a high mineral content which can include calcium, copper, zinc, and iron, says dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner of the American Dietetic Association. “Honey contains a variety of compounds, like flavonoids and phenolic acids that act like antioxidants, which can help us fight anything from heart disease to cancer,” she notes. Raw honey contains higher traces of vitamins and minerals than honey that has been processed with heat. In general, the darker the honey, the higher the antioxidant content,” Blanter says.
Bees are pollinators, and are a vital part of the life cycle of all kinds of food products. “About 35 percent of the calories we consume come from bee-pollinated foods,” says journalist Rowan Jacobsen, a hobbyist beekeeper and the author of Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis (Bloomsbury, 2008).
To help with the situation of losing entire bee colonies as in 2008, there are things that we can do. We can plant flowers that will bloom throughout the summer. Bees love sunflowers, rosemary, thyme, and lavender, all lovely to have in the garden for multiple uses. Keeping insecticides to a minimum also plays a part, which can be damaging to their nervous system. And, buying local honey not only supports local beekeepers, but local farmers as well, keeping our food fresh, vital and affordable.
My favorite spot for buying local honey is the Bradford Farm on hwy. 73 in Huntersville, and for some of the best honey you’ll ever taste, Tupelo honey from the Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville.
While Grandma no longer raises honey bees, she still always knows best and will always hold a special place in my heart.