Author Topic: Honey  (Read 6116 times)

Bob Niland (Boundless)

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« on: January 03, 2014, 07:54:40 AM »
Edition: 2015-02-11

Multiple bee stings are Mother Nature's way of gently asking:
"Are you really sure you want to eat this stuff?"

Optimal case: honey from a wild hive.

This might be your best bet, and it's got problems too.
This assumes
  • the hive is not working pesticide-laden flowers or crops,
  • the hive is not in Colony Collapse Disorder,
  • the bees are working a diverse species of pollen/nectar sources, and
  • the resulting honey is free of botulism*
A wild hive is at risk of picking up pesticides from the flowers and crop they service. Unless you know that the hive is some distance from the nearest frankenfarmer, there are a lot of things you might want to have it tested for.

Pure wild honey is a simple saccharide that is 50% fructose, and free fructose at that. See:

See also the book "The Fat Switch" (Richard J. Johnson, MD) which details the metabolism of fructose. No, fructose isn't the fat switch (uric acid is), but fructose is the biggest chubby finger on that switch.

Honey is wildy popular with "paleo" cooks, who write cook books and post web recipies.
They are fooling themselves.

Humans are superbly adapted to pack on pounds when fructose is available, historically during brief seasonal gorging, then burn it off in unplanned ketosis during deep winter. Today, metabolic summer never ends. Metabolic winter never comes. Metabolic syndrome comes instead.

Although not as effective as so-called agave nectar, honey is a popular all-natural organic free-range fair-traded way to get fat and diabetic.

Local apiary case

Here's a question to ask your local beekeeper:
"When do you feed your bees and what do you feed them?"

It is customary to provide sugar to bees to help them over-winter, and to replace the harvested honey. Whatever is fed to them, which could easily be HFCS, will get into the honey.

Some apiarists feed all year long.
Feeding Refined Sugar to Honey Bees
"Another thing that most people don’t realize about honey is that when you feed bees HFCS they stash it in the same cells that nectar gets stored in, and in fact gets mixed up with the honey. So when you buy honey from many suppliers you are getting HFCS and a honey mixture—even if the label says “pure honey,” the odds are it isn’t."

If you can get the bees to add the HFCS or sucrose at the honeycomb, you can still call it "honey", if we read between the lines of the FDA draft guidance.

Do the colonies have access to diverse sources of pollen and nectar? If not study up on the low risk of "honey intoxication". And, of course, there is the same pesticide residue concern mentioned above for wild honey.

Trusted brand case

Are you sure?
I wouldn't bee.

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey
"Some U.S. honey packers didn’t want to talk about how they process their merchandise."
No kidding.

Random brand case

There's a massively high chance that it contains no honey at all. Odds are that it's completely, or largely HFCS or HFRS (High Fructose Rice Syrup). It it's India or China-sourced, it may be contaminated with random chemicals, illegal animal antibiotics, toxins, bacteria, and even heavy metals. Feed "honey laundering" to your favorite search engine.

Chloramphenicol is a particular concern, because honey adulterers use it to prevent spoilage in honey harvested too early. Fluoroquinolones are another serious problem.
… more than a third of honey consumed in the US has been smuggled from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. To make matters worse, some honey brokers create counterfeit honey using a small amount of real honey, bulked up with sugar, malt sweeteners, corn or rice syrup, jaggery (a type of unrefined sugar) and other additives—known as honey laundering.

That freebie packet of "Honey Sauce" at the All You Can Swallow buffet?
I wouldn't touch it on a bet.

Might there be some health benefits to local pure honey? Perhaps, but they are drowned by the fructose and may well be outweighed by the contaminant risks. And it will take an extraordinary effort to achieve any level of confidence that the syrup in the bottle had any bee participation of consequence.

Safer xylitol-based alternative:

So When You See "Honey" in the Ingredients List on the NF Panel ...
  • either the manufacturer doesn't know all of the above,
  • or they do.
I'm not sure which is more alarming.
In any case, they are hoping you think there is some important difference between honey and contaminated HFCS.

* Never feed any honey to children under 1 year old, due to the botulism risk.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2014, 11:29:52 AM by Boundless »

Linda R

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Re: Honey
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 09:12:46 AM »
Very informative, I always look forward to your posts, Boundless.

I just read a recent post on the Iowa Food Coop site, and they are listing the 5 best things to eat for a healthy New Year.
Number 3?

3) A spoonful of raw, local honey IS medicine. So put it on everything. Plus, it tastes great. Raw honey holds antibacterial power over more than 60 types of bacteria, and, unlike antibiotics, doesn’t carry the toxic risks.

It gets worse.
#5 is baked goods.  [Geez, more sugar and flour!]

I am truly enjoying the delicious grass fed beef that I purchase through the Coop but the PR staff REALLY needs to get educated!


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