honey

“That buzzing noise means something. Now, the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you are… a bee! And the only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.” – Winnie-the-Pooh

If you’ve ever watched your children’s Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons or read the books by A. A. Milne, you may remember the little bear with a big appetite for one thing: Honey. Pooh spent his time seeking out honey from bees buzzing around the hundred-acre woods… that is to say… local honey, and for good reason. Local honey has a great deal of health benefits, as well as a very distinct flavor.

Health Benefits of Local Honey

Local honey offers a variety of health benefits. A natural sweetener, honey is also a superfood of sorts, offering a variety of immune-system-boosting pluses. Not only does local honey ward off seasonal allergies, natural honey is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-bacterial substance. Honey can help boost your immune system, as well as cure smaller injuries and ailments, like sore throats, cuts and burns thanks to its anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, which also make honey a great ingredient in natural beauty products. For all of these reasons and more, honey is a great food to enjoy daily.

How to Add Honey to Your Daily Diet

It’s so easy! Use honey in place of sugar in your tea or breakfast oatmeal. Drizzle some into organic Greek yogurt or your own homemade yogurt for dessert or a sweet snack. Spread it on bread plain, or add peanut butter for a delicious, sweet sandwich. Honey is also an ingredient in several recipes, both sweet and savory:

Of course, you could always eat a spoonful of honey neat, especially delicious varieties of local honey.

Honey Varieties

Most honey bought in stores has been heated and filtered, removing some of its health benefits. Buying local honey directly from beekeepers ensures a rich and flavorful product with a texture that you may not be used to; unfiltered honey crystalizes or hardens very quickly, to the point of being nearly spreadable. This is normal, and kept at room temperature, natural honey (even when crystalized) will not go bad.

Many varieties of honey are sold based on the flowers from which the bees made it. When you buy honey made from thyme, lavender or rosemary flowers, for example, the honey retains some of the flavor of these herbs. Buckwheat honey is characterized by its darker color; dark honeys like this, such as some kinds of heather honey, have a much higher antioxidant level and a deeper, more molasses-y flavor. Lighter honeys like clover or blueberry honey have more delicate flavors. To decide what variety is right for you, visit a local beekeeper who sells his honey; they usually offer tastes of all their varieties. You can also order a honey sampler online to reap the benefits of unfiltered, all-natural honey.

image: Siona Karen