Honey…That Ain’t Honey

(Image thanks to twentytwowords.com)

I like to shop local whenever I can. I like to support small businesses, American businesses and my neighbors. I like knowing that my food hasn’t been pumped full of drugs and that it hasn’t used 5,000 miles worth of fuel to get to me. Being as how I live in Seattle, I am fortunate in that there are many businesses that cater to this.

I usually get my produce from the farmers market or local grocery store, who in turn get their products from Washington and Oregon (and occasionally California).  I get most of my clothes secondhand from thrift stores and garage sales and I go to the local garage when my car needs work. Generally, this means that I have fresh, seasonal produce, a diverse wardrobe that attracts the occasional compliment, and a mechanic that isn’t trying to sell me some bullshit floormat set just so they can reach some multi-national corporation’s first quarter budget goals and thus in turn not get fired from the job they hate.

I do however see the need to get certain products from the corporate chains, as I see no difference in the quality (or brand) of trash bags that I get from the local guy or from QFC. And so occasionally, when I am in said corporate establishment, I see deals that are just too good to pass up. A few weeks ago I noticed that honey was 50-75% cheaper at QFC (Kroger) than the farmer’s market. Yeah, it’s not Washington honey. But damn – 75% less!? So I made the switch. Besides, I only use honey for tea and smoothies, so who really cares, right?

And so three weeks into my new little honey experiment, I stumble across this little story from Food Safety News which highlights that not only is most honey in the U.S. not from the U.S., but it’s not even really honey. Awesome.

It’s apparently some sort of strange, filtered mix of corn syrup and Chinese antibiotics that has been run through a process which makes it virtually impossible to determine its origins. So that’s cool. Cool on the Chinese for sending us more useless, unhealthy crap. Cool on us for buying it. And cool on the U.S. government for (yet again) gladly accepting that crap and feeding it to the masses.

And so I go, back to my local honey producer, head in hand and Chinese antibiotics in body, to humbly ask forgiveness for straying out into that corporate floodlight and hopelessly buzzing about.

Excerpt from FoodSafetyNews.com:

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled “honey.”

The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies.

The food safety divisions of the  World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey – some containing illegal antibiotics – on the U.S. market for years.

Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.

Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and one of the nation’s premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey.

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