Honey honey honey!

Susan Hutchinson 19 September 2014

Where do you buy your honey? Do you buy local?

Bees are hugely important for environmental health. Globally, bee populations are in dire trouble. So far, our populations in Australia have been safe from the ravages of the varroa mite and Colony Collapse Disorder, but there are still a substantial number of issues facing our bee populations. This year, there has been a honey shortage. According to Carmen Pearce-Brown, “there’s been a small harvest this year compared to other years, for some beekeepers it’s up to 90% less than other years. It’s a honey shortage.”

Buying local honey, supporting local beekeeping, is great for food security. Keeping healthy populations of pollinators is important for home gardeners and for local farmers. Mitchell Pearce won the 2014 ACT Sustainable Cities Award from Keep Australia Beautiful. He is the Director of the Canberra Urban Honey Project which began when Canberrans noticed a decline in local bee populations. Now you can host a hive, or buy a bottle. I buy my honey from the Honey Delight stall at the Capital Region Farmers Market, but you can pick it up from various independent grocers around the capital. You can’t get much more local than buying a jar of Canberra Urban Honey. There are jars from hives all over town: north side and south side. I bought a jar of Ainslie honey, which only comes from the next suburb over from me. There are a range of other benefits to buying local honey too. Spring has sprung, and many of us will feel the effects of the hayfever season. Consumption of local honey has been shown to desensitise people to certain environmental allergens.

If it’s health you’re after, you might be interested in Manuka honey, with antibacterial properties far greater than regular honey. Well, you needn’t buy this honey all the way from New Zealand. Manuka is simply the kiwi word for tea tree. You can buy the local equivalent, ‘Active honey’ with equally high antibacterial qualities from Honey Delight. I add a spoonful to a breakfast smoothie with a spoon of malt extract, cacao powder, a frozen banana, yoghurt and milk. It is truly sensational.

But there are other honey goodies on offer at market. Win’s Creek Honey make a wonderful range of honey products. Their mead is simply superb and makes a great bottle to take to a friend’s house next time you’re invited. I love the stuff. You can also buy chocolate creamed honey, which makes a great substitute for Nutella. Made with raw cacao, it’s packed with antioxidants, is palm oil free and includes no refined sugar. I like a spoonful on top of a bowl of porridge made with 50:50, milk:water. There are choices for if you like your honey mild and sweet, or packed full of honey flavour.

How do you like your honey, honey?

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