The importance of buying local honey

The global honey industry currently exceeds 1.2 billion metric tons of production per year with the vast majority of honey produced in mainland China. America, as one of the leading buyers of global honey at 400 million pounds annually, has an important stake in this massive international market. More of us are choosing honey as our go to sweetener because it is portrayed as being the healthy alternative to corn syrup and cane sugar. While the science behind wild honey’s benefits is sound, the reality is that nearly all of the globally produced honey is completely empty of any nutritional value. How did such a healthy product of nature become just another addictive and unhealthy sweet treat?

China is able to produce such massive amounts of honey through the use of highly effective antibiotics in their bee colonies. These same antibiotics have been banned in the U.S. because research has found that they leach into the end product from the bees and additionally spoil the naturally sweet flavors. To overcome this unfortunate side effect, Chinese honey producers mix in enough corn syrup to recreate the sweet taste but stay just under the international limits of honey purity. Just because the product says it is honey, it does not mean that it is entirely made of honey, more likely it is a blend of sweeteners that the consumer did not intend to ingest. Chinese companies send the product in barrels to Indonesia or Taiwan where its country of origin is relabeled as these more trustworthy neighbors. Then it is on to the American market where it goes into snacks, cereals, and of course, those delightful little honey bears.

Buying local honey from your farmers market is the perfect solution on every level of this problem. You support a local grower who in turn supports local farmers by maintaining a healthy bee colony near their farms. The honey you buy at the farmers market is rich in pollens from your environment which help with allergies and high in minerals and amino acids from the bees which are key to our health. Finally the money stays here in our market, our neighbors benefit, and Americans help each other grow in their health and in their business. So please, buy local honey, it sweetens life for all of us in Marin.