Is Your Honey Really Honey?

I knew that raw, unfiltered honey has great health benefits, but I didn’t realize that the “honey” sold in many grocery stores not only doesn’t boast these benefits, but may not even be real honey!

When someone first told me that a honey label doesn’t have to say if the sweetener has been cut with corn syrup, I didn’t want to believe him. A little research helped me learn the truth, though. According to Food Safety News, most store honey isn’t honey. Even if it isn’t corn syrup, the honey is ultra-filtered, leaving a sweetener that at best is basically sugar syrup, and at worst may be contaminated with dangerous antibiotics and even heavy metals. The filtration process removes even the tiniest bits of pollen, which is the only way to know the honey’s origin. China in particular has been known to hide the origin of the honey it produces because of dangerous practices that led to contamination. But you can read more about that in the article linked above or this one from Food Renegade, which is a bit more readable.

So why would a customer want their honey ultra-filtered and/or cut with corn syrup? Well, aside from being cheaper, this honey doesn’t crystallize. In the photo below, I turned both bottles upside-down moments before taking the picture. The filtered honey on the right flows smoothly, leaving the sides of the bottle relatively clean, while the unfiltered, pure honey on the left is still clinging to the sides of the container. The crystallization is also a good sign that it is indeed pure honey.

The best way to know whether your honey is real or not is to meet the beekeeper who produced it. Farmers Markets offer a great opportunity to do so. The honey included in Morning Harvest farm’s CSA is not only unfiltered, but also raw and local. This means it’s full of enzymes that haven’t been burned up by a high-heat extraction process, as well as pollen which has multiple health benefits. My favorite benefit is the fact that ingesting the pollen of local plants after the bees have processed it can help with allergy problems—one more great reason to shop local!

I would list suggestions of how to use honey, but really, what is honey not good for? Not only does the flavor blend well with just about every food, honey also has all kinds of topical uses, like as a hair conditioner or face mask.

What is your favorite way to use honey?