Where to buy sustainable honey
An ethical guide for buying honey
Valued for centuries as a natural sweetener and for it’s health benefits, the honey deman worldwide keeps growing.
Meanwhile, increasingly intensive bee-farming methods accompanied by the extensive use of insecticides (especially neonicotinoids) within the commercial agriculture, the loss of natural habitat and other factors, contribute to the decimation of bee populations.
Science suggests that 15% to 35% of honey bee colonies have been lost between 1985 and 2005 in Europe, while in the US this figure may even reach 60-90%.
Right now, we as consumers should ask this one question:
How can we make an ethically correct choice when buying honey?
There are two simple steps, everybody can take when choosing and buying honey:
Buy from your beekeeper nearby
So, if you decide to buy honey, make sure to purchase from beekeepers concentrating on bee conservation rather than from a business driven by profit.
To help maintaining a friendly ecosystem for the bees to thrive, it is worth investing in high quality honey which ideally comes from your beekeeper nearby.
For some countries, it does make sense to buy an organic-labelled product as well, but as bees need to visit thousands of flowers to collect the amount of nectar needed for one single glass of honey, for many beekeepers it is impossible to guarantee that only organically grown flowers have been involved in this process.
This means that certified organic honey often needs to be imported – with the consequence of high food miles and, unless stated as fair trade, poor working conditions. It is therefore recommended to support your local beekeeper and inform yourself about the principles they rise their bees with, as even though they might be unable to certify their honey as organic, they might raise their bees mostly on organically grown land as well.
Also, in these cases, balance is key: Conscious and moderate consumption is essential, looking at honey as a special-occasion product or health remedy and using plant-based sweeteners as alternatives.
Be aware of “fake honey”!
By investing in a local honey, you do not only support your local beekeeper in sustaining his bee population, you are also less likely to get your hands on fake honey or, to be more precise, adulterated, impure or artificial honey.
This kind of honey has been extended in most cases with various kinds of syrup such as corn, dextrose, sugar, molasses or other flavours and additives have been added to sell larger quantities for extremely low prices.
Most of these artificially created honeys originally come from China and endanger the local honey production by imposing dumping prices impossible for national suppliers to compete with.
“Fake honey” is typically present in supermarket and wholesaler shelves.
Wait, we are not saying that all the honey jars in supermarkets are fake honeys.
What we want to tell you is that you should always check the label and find out about the origin of the honey. Do not trust blindly the “organic”-labels but follow your natural sense of logic:
Ask yourself: How can honey be sustainable if it is a blend of UE and non-UE honeys?
Also, the thickness or density of the honey may already indicate if it is real or fake: As a rule of thumb, while pure honey is rather thick, fake honey, on the other side, will run when moved from one side to another in a container. Other properties of fake honey can be foam, a rough texture and / or clumps as well as a sour or no significant smell at all. For more information read also our Consumer guide for bee products.
- 1) http://www.lorebay.com/raw-honey/how-to-check-purity-of-honey-test-real-fake-pure/
- 2) http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalreports/honey.aspx
- 3) https://de.slideshare.net/bioterra/honey-report73975