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Life's Sweeter with Honey Part 1: Which Honey Do I Choose?

raw honey

What’s the Difference Between Raw Honey and “Honey”?

You can buy honey anywhere. From grocery store shelves to farmers’ markets, there’s no shortage of the bees’ magical brew.

But if you’ve ever looked closely, you’ll see that honey naturally has different colors, and those colors vary significantly from the grocery store than they do from the organic bee farmer.

Why is that?

The Problem with Grocery Store Honey

Honey Without Pollen

Grocery stores want products that have a long shelf life to increase profits. To keep honey a profitable food product, manufacturers ultra-filter honey and sometimes water it down. (You may have noticed that grocery store honey is much thinner.) Sometimes they even mix it with other ingredients, like high-fructose corn syrup!

The ultra-filter process damages honey in three ways:

  • Removes bee pollen, the heart and soul of honey

  • Removes any definable way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources

  • Removes the medicinal properties from honey

  • An astounding 76% of commercial honey contains no pollen. This includes stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A & P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.

  • 77% of honey from Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target, and H-E-B had the pollen removed.

  • 100% of honey packaged in small individual containers from Smucker, McDonald’s and KFC also had the bee pollen removed.

photo credit: www.foodsafetynetwark.co.za

If you purchase honey labeled organic from the grocery store, your chances of getting real honey are better. The Food Safety Network found 71% of the samples tested were heavy with pollen.

However, honey bought at co-ops, farmers’ markets, PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full amount of bee pollen.

Buy raw honey from food co-ops

Beside the Lack of Pollen, Why Is Commercial Honey Scary?

Removing pollen makes no sense from a nutritional viewpoint and it’s costly! “I don’t know of any U.S. producer that would want to do that. Elimination of all pollen can only be achieved by ultra-filtering and this filtration process does nothing but cost money and diminish the quality of the honey, “says Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association.

Jensen goes on to say that most of the ultra-filtered honey sitting on store shelves comes from China. It has entered the country un-inspected and in violation of federal law.

In the honey business, it’s no secret that the reason pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from. In almost all cases, that’s China.

What’s Wrong with Chinese Honey?

Honey from China--Beware!

In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission imposed stiff import tariffs to stop China from flooding American markets with dirt cheap, poor quality, heavily subsidized honey.

The Chinese honey market responded by simply laundering the honey, shipping it to other countries, then switching the color of the shipping drums, the legal documents and labels.

The new information claimed a bogus, tax-free country as the origin of the honey.

The Raw Honey Difference

Raw honey, by contrast, does not have all the political drama that commercial honey does, and it’s good for you!

Bee pollen

To be considered raw, the honey cannot be heated over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A little heat, as indicated here, is fine because bees naturally produce heat in the hive to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unfiltered or lightly filtered, raw honey retains its naturally occurring, beneficial pollen, enzymes and minerals. In colder temperatures, it does crystallize but it’s still beneficial and safe to eat.

If you don’t want to eat raw crystallized honey, you can gently heat it until it returns to its liquid state. The best way to do that is slowly!

Use a bowl of hot water, not boiling, and place the jar of honey in the bowl to allow it to return to it liquid state.

Beware! Microwaving honey destroys the beneficial enzymes and pollen.

The Incredible New Zealand Manuka Honey

New Zealand bees flock to Manuka bushes, and the results are impressive. Manuka honey, while a bit pricey for everyday use, is a powerhouse of medicinal resources. It has been used for:


  • Allergies and sinusitis

  • Sore throats and immunity

  • Tooth decay and gingivitis

  • Burns, wounds, and ulcers

To learn more about this highly beneficial honey, click here to read a great article from Dr. Axe.

Photo credit: http://news.cision.com/manuka-health/i/bee-on-manuka-bush,c1242798

5 Awesome Uses for Honey

Want to know some excellent ways to add honey in your life? Here are our 5 faves:

  • Hot drinks

  • Stir raw honey into your favorite hot drinks like coffee and tea.

  • Alcoholic Beverages

  • Raw honey is a yummy and better-for-you sweetener for cocktails and mixed drinks.

  • Gently warm the honey in a bowl of hot water. Then mix with the alcohol of your choice or citrus juice to dissolve before adding other ingredients.

  • Scrubs

  • Use crystallized honey as a body or face scrub. The gentle particles won’t damage your skin. And, the longer you let it sit on your skin, the more the beneficial antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals will absorb through your skin.

  • Quick tip: To speed up the crystallization of your honey, place it in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

  • Allergy Symptoms

  • Reduce seasonal allergy symptoms by mixing a spoon of raw, local honey with a spoon of organic apple cider vinegar. Add water to taste. Drink this great tasting mix daily during allergy season.

  • DIY Facial Masks

  • You can mix honey with all kinds of ingredients to make a moisturizing and healing face mask, including clays, yogurt, fruit purees, herbs, spices, lemon juice and more!

Need some instructions? No problem! We’ll give you some great recipes next week!

Want to know where to buy honey? Jewell’s Naturals carries raw, local honey from Golden Angels Apiaries - a local apiary that uses sustainable and non-toxic bee ​

management practices.

Jewell's Naturals New Customer Offer

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