I recently wrote an article about the healing benefits of honey. But before you head down to the grocery store to buy some of this liquid gold, make sure it’s real honey. That’s right, just because it’s in a jar that’s labeled honey doesn’t mean it’s real honey collected from your local beekeeper (or, even someone’s local beekeeper).
It’s been officially established by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States (FDA) that if honey does not contain at least trace amounts of pollen, it doesn’t constitute real honey. The FDA reasons that without pollen traces, there is no way to determine that the source of the honey is safe to consume. This is because if scientists are unable to view the pollen under a microscope, its source cannot be known. Moreover, higher concentrations of pollen can indicate that the honey is less refined, since pollen is a natural side effect of making honey (and being a bee in general).
The FDA has made this rule about pollen, but they reportedly do not enforce it due to understaffing. To prove the amount of questionable honey sold on the shelves, Food Safety News conducted a study of the makeup of several honey jars collected from various stores, and what they found was that most of the honey sold in stores is of the watered-down, additive variety.
Often times the pollen is intentionally filtered out so that the source cannot be known. When this happens, it is usually because the honey is coming from China. Imported honey isn’t regulated with the same standards, and often contains high volumes of additives like high fructose corn syrup. This also makes it impossible to tell if the plants pollinated were treated with pesticides, or how heavily the bees are medicated with antibiotics.
So, then what’s the ‘fake’ honey? It starts out as real honey but then is watered down and mixed with other artificial additives.
How can you make sure that your honey is real? Head down to the local farmers’ market or co-op in your area. Look for brands that you recognize as being local or reputable.
The more we support local beekeepers, the less susceptible our markets are to cheaper chemical-ridden alternatives.