Local Honey

It’s that time of year for some people’s love-hate relationship with flowers to really get going.  The Hubs used to have TERRIBLE allergies.  I used to HATE allergy season because I couldn’t get any sleep thanks to his outrageous snoring.  Along with the runny nose, itchy eyes and the runny nose, he wasn’t getting good sleep either.  So, we were both miserable.  He tried everything!  Anti-allergy medication and even anti-snoring sprays, strips, and pillows.  We used to go to the warehouse stores and stock up on the anti-allergy medicines every year.  At one point he took so much of one that he developed a tolerance and had to switch to another one.  Nothing made a difference.  Despite everything we tried, every year the same thing happened.  Then, I read an article about raw local honey.  They were working on a theory that by taking a spoonful of local honey a day you could inoculate yourself against the pollen that triggered allergies in the same way you teach your body to fight off a virus using a vaccine.  Since the bees in your area would be coming into contact with all the pollen in your area it was best to find the farm closest to your house.  Since most people travel within their own zone (it’s a gardening thing, I’ll explain in another post), it should cover most pollen they come in contact with.

Needless to say I was desperate.  I looked everywhere for local honey and couldn’t find it.  The local supermarkets only had honey from other states and even Whole Foods hadn’t caught up to selling local yet.  Thankfully, I got an email about a pick your own organic farm about a mile from our house.  I went to check it out just to be nosy and finally found some local honey.  I probably embarrassed myself with my yelp of joy, but I couldn’t care less.  It was time to test the theory.  The Hubs was understandably underwhelmed by this idea.  If we had tried every possible option, why would we think something as simple as honey would work.  The first season it didn’t make that much of a difference.  The second season was a little better.  The third season was so good I forgot why I hated spring.

The funny thing is that I used to have an allergy to something in the early fall.  I still don’t know what it was.  My mom found an article on a study that found that some people had an unknown environmental allergy that surfaced in late summer to early fall.  (I don’t know where my mom finds some of the articles she finds.)  The sufferers all had outrageous migraines, but the people running the study couldn’t figure out what they were allergic to so they just documented the phenomenon.  These migraines were so bad that it felt like the room was spinning while I was lying flat in a dark room in an empty and soundless house.  I remember trying to stand up and feeling like my head had it’s own pounding heartbeat.  It took me a while to figure out that the pain medication did nothing for these migraines, but after my mom read the article I tried allergy medicine and it was like a godsend.  Ever since I started doing the annual local honey I haven’t had these nutty migraines (and thank goodness) even without the allergy meds.

When I was a kid, I spent summers in Jamaica and my aunt used to line my cousins and me up every morning and we all got a big spoonful of honey.   It was technically local honey, but no one really thought about it then.  (Jamaica seems small, but thanks to the hills, there are different growing zones so some things that grow in certain areas won’t grow in others.)  We just picked up the honey from a guy not too far from the house.  I remember how much fun it was to go visit the guy who harvested the honey and if we were REALLY good she’d hand over pieces of the honeycomb to us.  (If you read the post on Easter bun then you’ll likely understand that a fight generally ensued depending on who got the biggest piece.)  I love honey.  Yeah, I get that it’s good for you, but I seriously love it.  That’s why I was so confused a few years back because I suddenly started hating the taste of it.  I couldn’t figure out what went wrong.  I used to go to the supermarket and pick up some honey and try to replicate my aunt’s morning routine and I’d just end up spitting it out.  Then I realized that I kept buying Clover Honey.  It was the easiest one to get and always in the biggest bottle so I’d just grab that one and go.  I can’t stand the flavor of Clover Honey.  “Not that there’s anything wrong with it.”  There’s just an aftertaste that I find unbearable.

Thanks to the anything but clover honey search I discovered how many different types of honey there are.  There’s a baker in Canada who only uses blackberry honey from California in one of his cookies because he says the cookie doesn’t taste right with any other type of honey.  So, obviously, I’m going to have to get some to test if it’s true.  There are people devoted to his cookies so he must be doing something right.  So, then I started checking out how honey got it’s different flavors.  Apparently, the only way honey  can be labeled with a “flavor” is if there is a threshold amount of the named plant in a three mile radius from the hive.  The honey bees supposedly only really travel about three miles from the hive so they’re most likely to harvest from plants in that area.  The easiest way to tell is that the package will say “Blueberry Honey” if it’s from blueberry harvesting bees and “Blueberry Flavored Honey” if it has blueberry (whether it’s artificial or natural) flavor added.  You can find honey from bees that harvest from all kinds of plants.  Supposedly lychee honey is one of the more expensive ones and since I LOVE lychees I’m going to have to bite the bullet and order it one of these days just to try it.  It’s not local but the flavor has go to be amazing!  And thanks to the internet you can hunt down any of your favorite flavors.

I would love to have a beekeeping setup at the house, but something tells me that a little boy and a bee hive aren’t the best mix.  I’ve heard that there are people who will basically let your rent the setup if you have an organic garden and they will come and do all the work.  I don’t know if they have the service in my area, but it is a pretty cool idea.  Thanks to the scare a few years ago about the bees disappearing and whole hives dying off, there has been a resurgence of beekeeping.  And since there are rooftop gardens in so many cities, there are also beekeeping rooftops too (something has to do the pollination) so finding local honey in the city isn’t even as hard as it seems like it could be.  The farm where I get my local honey is finally having their open house this weekend so I will be there bright and early to pick some up before Snore Fest 2011 begins.

Trackbacks Comments
  • Randi says:

    Saul High School for the Agricultural Sciences in Philadelphia also jars and sells its own honey and it is local right from the bees at the school.

    Great article! As a fellow allergy sufferer, I will also be trying that!

    • Monique says:

      Thanks for the info Randi. I love the trend of more schools giving kids opportunities to learn that food doesn’t just come from a supermarket shelf. And of course it’s is a great way to support the kids & schools!

  • Debra says:

    I’m getting to a point where i dont even have to tell him about my exciting readings on this blog i just send him an excerpt and he knows to get Ready for our next taste test. LOL

  • Chuck says:

    As a fellow allergy sufferer, I will have to try this. And having to eat honey every day… how bad can that be?!
    Not that I’m complaining about eating honey but I’m curious how long it took till you noticed the honey helping alleviate the allergy symptoms?

    • Monique says:

      Chuck,
      It was gradual, but it was an obvious improvement. The first season he needed the meds on the high pollen days, then the second season it was just some of the high pollen days and after about the third year The Hubs hardly suffered at all. We don’t even buy allergy meds any more and I used to think we should have stock in it.

      • Chuck says:

        Well I will have to look at the Lansdale Farmers Market then. They usually have a pretty decent variety of “stuff”. maybe I’ll ge tlucky. Thanks.

  • Omoro says:

    The Rittenhouse Square farmer’s market was pretty good on Saturday. I’m sure the prices are a little higher considering the audience, but still worth checking out. I bought some honey from Milford, NJ there.

  • Chuck says:

    Given our love of honey, I thought I’d share a couple links with ya’ll. It makes you stop and think of what we’d be missing if we had no Bees.

    http://www.gmo-safety.eu/database/1038.effects-maize-honeybees.html

    http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2009/01/gmos-killing-honeybees.html

    • Monique says:

      Thanks for the links Chuck. I think we’ll all be in better shape when they get to the bottom of the Colony Collapse Disorder. Although, I’ve seen an increasing amount of bees (and different kind of bees) every year I’ve used organic practices in my garden. I have no idea what they were doing anything before I got there.

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