On August 19, 2014 The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) proposed a standard of identity for honey. Yes, you read that correctly. We currently can sell most anything as “honey” because there is no standard for marketing a product called honey or with honey as an ingredient. The demand for honey out weighs production. According to beekeepers at a recent USF Botanical Gardens class companies like General Mills, Pillsbury and Kellogg use artificial honey made in China as an ingredient in their products.

While the honeybees swarmed around their hive boxes, Jim Johnson of Johnson Family Apiaries, advised about current issues affecting beekeeping. Colony collapse from pesticides is only one issue. Loss of flowering plants like Brazilian peppers influences food supply for honey production. When bees have to travel great distances to find blossoms, they can become poorly nourished and die. One year a blooming patch of plants was a short distance away from their hive; the next year it is gone because invasive species destruction was more important than a healthy bee population to pollinate our food supply.

So do we need to buy 100% Raw Manuka Honey from New Zealand because a TV physician recommends it? No, there are local beekeepers who talk to their bees and take time to replace queens annually to insure a successful honey harvest. Local beekeepers are extremely important for our food production because bees pollinate over 30 percent of our food crops. But most backyard beekeepers were more interested in sustainability of their hobby than honey nutrition.

For thousands of years honey has been used by humans capable of stealing it. Honey is a high fructose sugar solution ( 38 percent fructose compared to 65 percent fructose in carbonated beverages) known to contain antioxidants (ascorbic acid and flavonoids) with only trace amounts of amino acids. Honey that is sold as raw contains all the pollen, enzymes and nutrients that are filtered out or destroyed by heat when it is processed. Seasonal raw honey may provide health benefits for those suffering from pollen allergies.

Bees also produce Royal Jelly which is fed to the queen her entire life. It allows her to grow larger and live 50 times longer than worker bees that eat just honey. Bee pollen is a protein food that is fed to young maturing bees so they grow faster. Bee pollen in seasonal raw honey may help allergy sufferers.

The Taste of Honey at USF Botanical Gardens would be an ideal time for those wanting to learn about honey and beekeeping. The fundraiser is September 20, 2014 from 1 to 3 PM.

Honey provides 64 calories per tablespoon. My favorite way to enjoy honey is in a healthy granola. Once you try a homemade granola you’ll see why cereal company sales are struggling. The American breakfast cereal business of flakes and puffs full of sugar and artificial colors & flavors can no compete with a granola that is gluten-free with healthy ingredients like hemp seed, quinoa flakes and coconut oil. Enjoy it for breakfast, as a snack or topping for fruit.

honey-almondHoney Almond Granola

2 cups quinoa flakes
1/2 cup Marcona chopped almond
1/4 cup hemp seeds or sesame seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup raw honey
1/3 cup coconut oil

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Stir well to blend. Pour mixture into 8 inch square baking dish. Bake in 325 degree oven 30 to 45 minutes until lightly golden, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 3 cups. Store in sealed container in refrigerator.

Calories per 1/2 cup = 311
Protein 6 g, Carbohydrates 43 g, Fat 12 g, Sodium 64 mg