Honey is often touted as being one of the more wholesome sweeteners available. It contains several vitamins and minerals (though in small amounts) and can reduce the severity of seasonal allergies. Plus, bees pollinate crops. About 30% of the world's crops and 90% of wild plants require bees to survive. But honey can have a dark side too…
How Is Honey Made?
Unfortunately, there are much less than ethical things companies can do to increase their honey profits. While it's illegal in the US to dilute honey with sugar or corn syrup and still call it honey, many other countries that we import honey from do not have such regulations. And that's not all that can be done to ruin the benefits of honey.
It gets worse. Even though “pure” honey produced in the U.S. hasn’t been directly adulterated with sweeteners, the natural process bees take to make the honey has been extremely – and terrifyingly adulterated.
Beekeepers have always had to be conscious about just how much honey they have to leave for the bees to feed off of and how much they can take for human use. But ever since the 1970s, commercial beekeepers have gotten greedy. They started taking all the honey away from the honeybees and giving them high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to eat instead. The bees are eating junk!
HFCS weakens honeybees’ immune system and defenses. Honeybees glean not only nectar from flowers, but also pollen and propolis, which is loaded with three types of compounds which help bees detoxify their cells. These days, honeybees are already under a lot of stress with all the pesticides in their environment,systemic and not. When robbed of their honey – and thus the pollen and propolis within it – bees become much more defenseless.
And how can we expect honeybees deprived of nutrients with weak immune systems to make quality, nutrient-full honey?
This is why it's worth your time and effort to make sure you're getting good quality, honey. I recommend starting at local farmers markets. Not only will you get a chance to speak directly to the producer, but local honey is more beneficial for allergy sufferers since the bees are collecting the same kind of pollen that's making you sneeze.
WATCH: What is Raw Honey and Why is It Better Than Pasteurized?
What do you do to make sure you're getting top-quality honey? Let us know in the comments!