If you think all honey is the same, these differences between commercial honey and honey that’s labelled raw might shock you. Ten good reasons to buy raw.
Most honey has no pollen in it. Many commercial kinds of honey contain little or no pollen because jars on the supermarket shelves have gone through a meticulous process of ultra-filtration, created in China, which removes the health properties (as well as the source of origin).
Raw honey will always contain pollen. According to the FDA (as well as the food safety divisions of the World Health Organization and the European Commission), the one test that authenticates honey is the presence of pollen. If the liquid gold doesn’t contain pollen, then by rights it shouldn’t be called honey
Commercial honey is heated to high temperatures allowing it to flow smoothly through machines to make it go further and to stay clear on the shelves, but the flavour and nutrients are depleted in the process. The consistency is runny and clearer to look at and you can sometimes tell when a honey has been through this process as it tastes over-cooked and over-caramelized.
Raw honey is unpasteurised (unheated) retaining its natural health benefits including active enzymes, vitamins and minerals. One enzyme called glucose oxidase helps produce molecules that give honey its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It has a cloudy look and thicker consistency with a more complex flavour profile than pasteurized honey.
Honey contains antibiotics that are fed to commercially bred bees which in turn is digested by the consumer. With industrial honey production, bees may be subject to a variety of processes and procedures. According to ethicalconsumer.org, these include artificial feeding regimes, artificial insemination, and treatment with antibiotics, inhumane transportation conditions and culling.
Raw honey is completely natural, the bees maintain themselves without any interference from the beekeepers and the honey from the pollen and nectar naturally contains antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties and packed full of powerful antioxidants.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is in a lot of honeys. This is a sweetener derived from GMO corn, and like any processed sugar has links to obesity and diabetes.
Raw honey is just honey. If you buy from a trustworthy producer contains exactly what it stated on the label – 100% honey.
Commercial honey frames are scraped through big machines killing the bees.
Raw honey is gently extracted from the comb through gravity or a gentle spinner without harming the bees or raising the temperature and so protecting the bees and keeping the honey in its raw state.
Many beekeepers and companies take all the honey from the hive when harvesting, which the bees need to get through lean times, this can contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The bees are fed sugar solution instead.
Good beekeepers leave enough honey in the hive for the bees to survive naturally when there is no pollen available.
If honey is cheap it means there are many shortcuts, bad practises, contamination or even honey laundering (i.e. it’s fake). There is way more’honey’ sold worldwide than it is possible for bees to produce. Be suspicious of cheap honey (however higher value price labels are not always a guarantee of quality either).
Raw honey is often a bit more expensive as producing the real deal is incredibly labour intensive. You pay for the care and attention to the bees, the patience to let them produce their beautiful nectar naturally and the impact of the different seasons.
The only way to be sure of a product is to ask questions about the source of honey, the producer and the beekeeping processes.
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