Sustainability, Farming & Cultural Shifts

Sustainability, Farming & Cultural Shifts

The crippling effect of natural or man-made disasters on people and the global economy can be durable. Sometimes they are life-changing and a prelude to the future. Whether they are floods, swarms of locusts, pandemics, or climate change, it doesn’t matter. The result is a permanent reckoning that changes our collective psyche. For my generation, it was the Vietnam war and stagflation. Today, Covid-19 has killed several hundred thousand people and upended our healthcare system. It's devastated the world economy and created an unprecedented increase in unemployment and jobless claims in America. Manufacturing and production can be halted and restarted, albeit slowly. Agriculture is nature dependent and as we are quickly discovering, far less flexible than other industries.

One of the many takeaways of the pandemic is the need to decrease our dependence on the global food supply chain and agribusiness. The importance of local agriculture cannot be more reinforced by this crisis. Direct farm-to-table online food retailers and proximity markets are not only being recognized and appreciated, but are thriving. Globalization is likely to lose ground in the foreseeable future. 

Honey is a global commodity. It’s also the third most adulterated food product in the world. Most “honey” sold in American grocery stores is a blend of sugar substitutes, meaning a combination of wheat, rice, beet or corn syrup. This is not just an American occurrence. U.K. based Honey Sommelier Sarah Wyndham Lewis recently lamented the fact that many of the finest restaurants in London use commercially “blended honey” originating out of China and India. China is especially adept at stripping out pollen from its products, thus hiding its origins and marketing blends as “honey.” It has been found to contain high levels of legal and illegal antibiotics and a plethora of agri-toxins. The casual shopper is being fooled with meaningless marketing terms such as “Raw” and “Organic.” But no more. 

The Coronavirus is changing the eating habits of a post quarantine world. Consumers are seeking safety and comfort in the kitchen. They also want to eat their way to a stronger immune system and a healthier lifestyle. Cooking at home is gaining more traction and may continue even after lockdowns are lifted. The driving impetus? Fear of contagion and the overwhelming need to source the product. Monofloral varietal honey is nature's healthiest most honest sweetener one can consume. High acidity (3.5 pH) guarantees its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties will last forever. Thousands of floral sources provide an unlimited kaleidoscope of flavors waiting to be discovered by the discerning public. 

Artisan beekeepers have issued the clarion call of honey fraud for years. It is time we heed them. Support your local farmer and beekeeper. Source your honey. Know how it is obtained, prepared, and stored. The best honey Is harvested directly from the hive and dispensed into a container on-premises, then sold directly to the consumer. Anything other than farm to fork, or in this case hive to spoon, should be considered suspect.

— The Beekeeper