Do you enjoy the delicious, sweet taste of honey on a fresh slice of bread? Where do you get the honey you slather on your bread?
If you say from your local beekeeper, this is excellent news! If you say from your local supermarket, no worries because I did this for a long time too.
However, over the years I began to keep bees with my husband. We started noticing differences between the honey we once knew and the honey we were now producing on our land.
From there, we did a ton of research and learned many interesting facts. I want to share with you the differences between authentic raw honey and the “honey” you may be purchasing from your local grocer.
Let’s get started:
Raw Honey vs Honey – What’s Raw Honey, Anyway?
The term ‘raw honey' means any honey which comes straight from the beehive. It has had nothing added or taken away from it.
This is the honey most people are intending to buy when purchasing it. However, over the years, honey has turned into a business.
When this happened, the quality of honey decreased significantly. We’ll talk about how this came about further in this article.
But for now, you should be aware; raw honey is nothing fancy. It’s what the bees make for themselves; someone collects from the hive, bottles it, and passes it on to the customer.
The significant difference in raw honey in comparison to other types of honey sold is that raw honey still contains pollen. Pollen is one of the leading benefits of consuming raw honey.
How Can Honey be Fake?
There’s no offense meant from my perspective when I use the term ‘fake honey.’ It’s a common term many people use to describe much of the honey being distributed throughout the United States.
It’s thought nearly 76% of all honey distributed in the United States would be considered fake honey. Which means most honey has been pasteurized and the bee pollen, along with almost every other vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and antibiotic property contained in honey, has been removed.
What does this mean for you? You’re consuming honey which has no nutritional value at all.
When honey goes through a process called ultrafiltration and pasteurization, this heats the honey to an extremely high temperature and removes everything (pollen and nutrients included) from the honey.
The reason large producers do this to the honey is that it’s said to give the honey an astronomically long shelf-life.
I’m a beekeeper, and I can tell you from personal experience, honey lasts for a long time anyway. In the five or more years we’ve been raising bees in our backyard, I haven’t had a single ounce of honey go bad, and I still have honey from those years sitting on my pantry shelf.
The reason is when bees are making honey they thoroughly dehydrate the gooey liquid because they need it to last a long time as well.
By fanning their wings and pulling the water from the honey, it ensures their food supply won’t spoil.
It doesn’t seem worth it, to strip honey of all its healing and health properties to make it last even longer.
Also, it should be noted, much of fake honey is cut with high fructose corn syrup to stretch the product further and make more money from each ounce of honey produced.
The more you learn about what happens to your honey before it hits the shelves, the more evident it becomes, there’s no comparison for nature’s natural gold.
As discussed, one of the most significant benefits of eating raw honey is the bee pollen. Pollen is where the drama with fake honey started.
Many years ago, the Chinese were in the know about how good raw honey was for the body. The demand for honey became greater and greater.
To keep up with the demand, they began producing low-quality honey. Over time, China faced other issues as well.
First, their hives had a massive outbreak of foulbrood. This is a disease which honey bees can sometimes get, and it will kill the entire colony. It’s extremely contagious between hives too.
When this happened, Chinese beekeepers used a medicine known as chloramphenicol. The FDA has since banned this drug because of the potential harm it can cause to a child’s DNA.
From there, it was also discovered much of the honey was being filtered and processed by small beekeepers in China using equipment which is high in lead.
With all of these dangers at the forefront, the FDA placed a tariff on China’s honey to discourage anyone from bringing it into the United States.
When this happened, China began selling its low-quality honey to India who mixed it with their honey and resold it as new honey to the United States market.
This honey was eventually traced back to China because of the DNA found in the remaining pollen in the honey.
This process is supposed to have been stopped, but many people are still leery of this and afraid they might be purchasing low-quality honey from their local grocer.
Benefits of Consuming Raw Honey
I get it. Purchasing raw honey from a local beekeeper can get expensive, but there are many significant benefits which come with the added cost.
Here’s what they are:
1. You Know Where the Honey Comes From
As we’ve discussed, when you purchase honey from a store shelf, you hope you know what you’re consuming.
In all actuality, you can’t know fully where your food is coming from. When you purchase honey from a grocery shelf, you have no way of peaking into the hive where the honey came from.
You don’t have a clue what’s in it, or the health of the hive.
But you can do all of this when purchasing honey from your local beekeeper. They can tell you what’s in their area for the bees to feed on to give you an idea of what’s inside the honey.
For instance, last year, we had sourwood honey, and our bees love working on blueberry bushes which gave us a unique blueberry flavored honey.
Local beekeepers can show you their hives when you purchase the honey, in most cases. If you’re buying from a Farmer’s Market, you can talk to the beekeeper to see if you can come by and check out his hives to make sure everything is healthy and to your liking.
These are a few of the benefits of shopping local and knowing what you’re purchasing.
2. Great for Your Health
Raw honey has a lot of health benefits. Natural, raw honey has both antiviral and anti-fungal properties.
It also includes antioxidants, can help balance your blood sugar, can help with stabilizing blood pressure, gives your immune system a swift kick in the pants, and is good for your digestive health too.
When you can get these benefits by taking a spoonful or two of sweet, delicious honey, why wouldn’t you?
3. High in Protein and Amino Acids
Our bodies need amino acids to function and keep us healthy. We’re in luck! Honey is high in both amino acids and protein.
This is great because our bodies also use protein to help build strong muscles, and it keeps us full longer. These are both wonderful qualities to have contained in a sweet and natural treat.
4. Balances Nutrition
Do you struggle to eat a balanced diet? It can be tough, but if you consume raw honey, it helps to balance your nutrition.
Raw honey can also give you an increase in energy and boost your overall health. These are more benefits you can take part in when indulging in a little raw honey on a daily basis.
5. Can Help with Daily Struggles
We all face daily struggles. Sometimes we wake up with our allergies going crazy. Other times, we step on the scale and are astonished at the number which pops up.
Well, when you make honey part of your daily regiment, you’ll be surprised how it can help with both issues. Raw honey contains bee pollen which is said to help with weight management.
However, when you eat locally raised honey, it should contain bee pollen from the area. By consuming this on a daily basis, it can help alleviate your struggle with allergies.
6. Keeps You Young
Finally, if you want to stay young, no one has found the fountain of youth yet. But they have discovered raw honey, which is close to being the same thing.
Raw honey has anti-aging properties. Meaning, even if the number of birthdays you have keeps rising year after year, your body doesn’t have to show the same number when you consume raw honey regularly.
How to Test If Your Honey is Raw “Fake”
When you purchase honey how will you know whether you’re buying raw honey or fake honey? There are a couple of things you can do to test the quality of your honey:
1. Is It Local?
If you want to make sure your honey is the real deal, find a local beekeeper. We are everywhere and appreciate your business.
When you purchase from a local person, ask if you can view their hives. Tell them you’re interested in the quality of honey you’re consuming and would like to see and know more about their bees.
Most beekeepers love to talk about their bees and the process they go through to provide you with a sweet treat.
You’ll probably make their day by wanting to listen because beekeepers go through many trials and errors to maintain bees year after year. It takes a great deal of research and effort to supply those around us with raw honey.
2. Thumb Test
If you must buy honey from the big box store shelves, you can bring the honey home and put a dab on the fingertip of your thumb.
If the honey stays in a droplet, you have real honey on your hands. If the honey runs, it is most likely mixed with corn syrup because raw honey is thick and won’t be runny.
3. Flame Test
Did you know raw honey can be flammable? Because it lacks water when the bees dehydrate it, if you dip a match in honey and try to strike it, it should light up.
However, if you dip a match in fake honey, it won’t light because fake honey has water placed in it. This makes the honey runny and is a method used to stretch the product.
4. Water Test
The next test you can do is place a droplet of honey in water. Raw honey will immediately sink to the bottom because it’s dense.
Fake honey will sprawl out in the water and begin to dissolve. Again, this is because the product has had water added to it to stretch the original product.
The first few years we kept bees, we thought we had done something terribly wrong. Some of our honey began to crystallize. After much research, we realize this was a compliment.
It was a sign our honey was the real deal.
If you have honey crystalize, it means the natural sugar content is high. This is a sign only bees have touched the product.
Crystallization may sound like a bad thing, but it’s easy to overcome. When your honey crystallizes, plop the bottle in warm water until it turns to liquid again.
Well, you now know the benefits of raw honey, how to test the quality of your honey, what fake honey is, and where the concerns about it arose.
But I’d like to hear from you. Do you consume raw honey on a regular basis? Leave us your comments in the space provided below.