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Friday, January 2, 2009

Support Your Local Apiary

Posted by Patrick Alan Coleman on Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 1:44 PM

bee.jpg

Bees are pretty much one of the coolest insects around. They have a matriarchal society, they have pouches on their legs to store pollen, they make honey, and they sport those awesome black and yellow stripes.

But no matter how awesome bee’s are, they can’t tell if a flower has been sprayed with pesticides or chemical fertilizer. This poses certain problems for those companies that market and sell organic honey.

Realizing that the issue was of dire concern to their readers, the Seattle PI has an in-depth look into the problems of regulating and labeling honey:

For American-made honey, the "organic" boast, experts say, is highly suspect. Beekeepers may be doing their part, but honeybees have a foraging range of several miles, exposing them to pesticides, fertilizers and pollutants on their way back to the hive.

Also suspect with store-bought honey? Country of origin and purity. Again, from the PI article:

Part of this is because of the government's failure to define what true honey is, but the blame also goes to a handful of sleazy honey packers who buy and sell cut-rate foreign honey, which usually has little problem slipping past overstretched customs inspectors.

“Sleazy honey packers,” is one of those phrases that I never thought I’d read, but now coined by the PI, will become the stuff of my nightmares. Luckily, a solution is offered: buy honey from local purveyors at your nearest farmer’s market or co-op. At least then, you can talk to the beekeeper or the buyer who talked to the beekeeper. They should be able to answer your questions about where and how the honey was produced. Still, that whole “organic” thing is pretty much bullshit, no matter who you’re buying from:

Government, academic and industry experts insist that U.S. organic honey is a myth. With rare exceptions, this country is too developed and uses too many agricultural and industrial chemicals to allow for the production of organic honey.

Knowledge is power. So, cut back the risk of buying contaminated honey by knowing the region the bees have been working and how the beekeeper has been treating the hives.

But whatever you do, don’t blame it on the bees—they have way too much other shit to deal with.

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