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As the holiday season gets in full swing and people are already patiently waiting for Santa to appear, there is a real buzz swirling around at the moment. It is hard to not be caught up as this is the season to be jolly. Thrown in this joy for good measure is national ‘I love honey day’ which is celebrated on the 18th December in the United States.
There is no doubt that Americans love honey as we are the largest honey consumer in the world. However, we must give a shout out to Iceland who has a dedicated honey week! It appears that a land illuminated with incredible northern lights and glacier water is conducive to honey loving! In the U.S, we can try to compete with this natural beauty with our impressive national parks (go Yellowstone!) but we really excel in our honey production given that there are over 300 different types of honey produced.
This article will seek to educate about the wonders of honey and get every reader inspired to drink, eat or harvest the best honey the world has seen. Let’s make the Icelandic proud!
The history of honey is long and illustrious. In its simplest definition, honey is a substance produced by bees from the nectar of plants. First though, an article about honey must first address the importance of bees in the honey process. Honey-bees have been in existence for 50 million years, thriving in colonies of 40 to 50,000 individuals. To put this into perspective, a single hive of 50,000 honey-bees can pollinate half a million plants in just one day. Mind-blowing statistics! Humans owe a great amount of debt to this tireless effort of bees. Bees are one of the planet’s most important animals as pollination from bees is responsible for 80 percent of all our fruit, nuts and vegetables.
Moving along the process, this honey needs harvesting. A 8,000 year old painting found in Spain gracefully illustrates the honey harvesting process, although historians have found no evidence of the human cultivation of colonies of bees until 2,400 BC. Despite this, honey has been a mainstay in medical practices for centuries as innovators in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece recognized the superb benefits of honey to treat diseases, such as indigestion and wounds. This process of exploring the benefits of honey has been continued throughout the generations and has evolved to uses for food, medicine and many more intuitive methods. The wonders of honey are simply endless! The role of beekeepers has been harnessed over time to effectively utilize honey for human consumption. Bees visit millions of blossoms in their lifetime, pollinating plants which are extremely useful for beekeepers. The magic of this process is that bees make more honey than needed, around 65 pounds of surplus each year, which beekeepers harvest.
As you can see, the extraction of honey is an interesting process that has fascinated generations of honey lovers. ‘I love honey’ day is a chance for enthusiasts to come together and bask in the glorious work of passionate beekeepers who are striving every day to spread the joys of honey across the nation. This hard work by beekeepers is complimented by the nutritional benefits of eating honey. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, simple lifestyle choices such as choosing honey over refined and processed sugar may lead to long-term health benefits given that honey is “known to have antioxidant, antimicrobial and soothing effects. It is made up of glucose, fructose, and minerals, such as iron, calcium, phosphate, sodium chloride, potassium, and magnesium.”
In addition to the obvious benefits of tasting delicious, honey also has immense medicinal benefits and is a versatile and wholesome food for people of all ages. Despite the trillions poured into medicinal research by big pharmaceutical companies, honey as a natural remedy is breathtaking. All hail the power of nature! For example, honey can be used to treat hayfever, asthma, high levels of cholesterol, diarrhea, ulcers diabetes and coughs. Research has proved that honey can alleviate symptoms of the common cold, offering a natural healer to a sore throat. A simple spoonful of honey relieves the painful irritation of the common cold can aid a natural recovery and an alternative to cough medicine that is purchased over the counter. The longest known use of honey is for wound dressings. Further, honey is a fantastic source of carbohydrates, having 17 grams per tablespoon, and can be used to help malnourished people fortify their diet. There are many more medicinal benefits but these listed are the most common and utilized.
As illustrated above, there are ample reasons to celebrate this national ‘I love honey’ day. Honey is a beneficial sweetener and a delicious natural nectar that is perfect for every occasion. To celebrate honey, cooking your favorite honey infused meal is a must! Honey can be drizzled, used as a topping or be the base of a delicious dish. Challenge yourself to try a new recipe, bake a cake and let honey bring the dish to life and show you new possibilities. Organic markets are ready and stocked to be explored. One bottle of honey can provide endless opportunities whilst also supporting fellow honey lovers. Nealy Fischer, founder of The Flexible Chef and author of the upcoming book ‘Food You Want For The Life You Crave’, advises that honey is consumed in moderation and that the jar is free of additives. “Most honey bottles stocked on the shelves of your local grocery store aren’t real honey. They’ve been processed, pasteurized, and stripped of the benefiting nutrients and pollen”. To ensure that all health benefits of raw honey are being effectively utilized Fischer suggests “buying your stash at a farmers market, investing in raw Manuka if you can, and always reading the labels.” The ingredient label in this process is key as a label saying “pure honey” indicates that nothing was added in the process from bee to hike to bottle.
*Editor’s Note: It is recommended that children under the age of two not eat honey due to the risk of botulism. If you believe you contracted botulism through contamination, a consultation with a botulism attorney can help you explore your legal options.
By: Billy Rayfield, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)