Honey is one of the most singular nutritious foods on the planet. (2) Cultures all over the world have enjoyed it for thousands of years. Of course, so do bees…and an occasional Pooh Bear. You might ask yourself why I made my honey discussion to be about organic honey. Well, that’s because there has been a recent honey scandal over the past decade.
There have been honey imitators, taking dyes and corn syrup…or worse, and calling it honey, when it fact, it isn’t. Honey Solutions of Baytown, Texas, and Groeb Farms of Onsted, Mich., have agreed to pay millions of dollars in fines and implement corporate compliance measures following a lengthy Justice Department investigation. (Source: NPR) (7)
Honey is a sacred food, highly delicious and sustaining. If you had no other food for weeks, you could actually live on honey because it has all that the human body needs: vitamins, (generally, all honeys have vitamin C and calcium) minerals, (iron) and sugars for energy. (1) (2)
Honey is easily digestible and can even assist in losing weight, even though it has more calories per teaspoon than simple sugar. This is because organic turbinado sugar has molasses included and is a complex carbohydrate, rather than a simple…and that becomes very important when addressing issues of metabolism.
Honey with warm water, lemon, and cinnamon can assist the body in releasing stored fat. (1) This is in normal metabolic circumstances. Those whose system may have been compromised by a combination of drugs or underactive thyroid may have benefits, but may not be the same as those with healthy systems.
If you have found yourself feeling sluggish, or muscles drained after your average workout, there is compelling recent research that shows that honey helps in the maintenance of blood sugar levels (which is key to not ‘hitting the wall’ while exercising). There is also some evidence that it helps the muscles recover after workouts. (1)
Honey is an antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial complex. It has genuine wound healing properties. (1) (2) It speeds up the healing process by stimulating tissues and even helps initiate the healing process in wounds that are dormant.
It also promotes autolytic debridement (uses the body’s own enzymes and moisture to re-hydrate, soften and finally liquefy hard eschar and slough-this definition is directly from the Wound Care Information Network).
There are many types of honey and various factors affect the quality of honey. Some of these factors include the type of flowers used, the blending process, storage conditions, temperature of heating, etc. Not surprising, blended floral honey can have more healing and beneficial properties than single derived flower honey (monofloral).
Darker honey may indicate long term storage (honey darkens the longer you have it) or present its true properties. If your honey is too light, it has probably been filtered. Honey should look like honey, not water. Water makes honey ferment. If pollen is present in the honey and you have allergies, you probably don’t want to eat that honey. (1) (2) (5) You will also notice that I added the word HEATING to the mix.
Heating changes the composition of honey drastically. For the truest benefits of organic honey, you normally don’t heat it…however, even though some minerals are lost, heating honey does do one very important thing if we are taking about giving it to young children: kills botulism.
The botulism spores can only be killed by the high heat, like in a pressure canner. The toxin (that is produced in anaerobic conditions) can only be destroyed by boiling. Honey isn’t safe for infants in cooked or baked foods, either. The temperatures required to kill botulism isn’t high enough to ensure the spores are destroyed.
Honey and Young Children
Honey is NOT recommended for any child under the age of 12 months. Sorry gang. If you would like to make my grandmother’s wonderful cough mixture for a child that young, molasses or organic sugar can be substituted, heated, but some (like the American Association of Pediatrics) don’t like molasses given to children under one, either.
Is organic honey given to children under 12 months in other countries outside the US? Perhaps, but it is not recommended. What about breastfeeding moms? Nope, don’t eat it while breastfeeding, and don’t give it to your child under age one. (3) (6) I am just the messenger here. Just for the record: I did breastfeed my daughter, and no, I didn’t give her organic honey until age two. Processed honey can be consumed by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
Is organic honey better? There is no research saying that organic is ‘better’ than non-organic. What that means is: there is no research BECAUSE no one researched it. One thing organic honey certainly is: safer.
There is a firestorm right now about the pesticides used on hives, (to kill mites, supposedly), in crops (while bees are trucked and introduced for pollination), and what bees are fed (yes, some bees have been fed high fructose corn syrup and there is a TON of research that this is extremely bad for humans to ingest, so I can’t imagine it could be good for bees, either).
Antibiotics in food have been controversial for quite some time. Why are we concerned about antibiotic residues in honey? The veterinary antibiotics include chloramphenicol, streptomycin and a number of sulfonamides, which are harmful to humans.
NOTE: Many countries have not banned the usage of these harmful drugs in apiculture. The EU has banned all three while the US has banned chloramphenicol. If you are getting imported honey, be aware. (2) (3) (4) (8) Organic honey avoids all these factors.
What is causing colony collapse? It is probably a combination of factors, epidemiological and environmental, from air, soil, and water, to electrical and electromagnetic. (2) (8) (9) (10) One thing is certain: the absence of these contaminants from organic honey makes it safer to consume. No one can sensibly argue that. (Written by Stephanie Simmons)
(5) AAP Pediatric Nutrition Handbook
(9) Mother Earth News
(10) Grit Magazine