Making a conscious purchase of honey involves considering various factors – including the quality of the honey, its source, sustainability and ethical practices. Here are six tips to help you make informed and ethical choices when buying honey.
If you’ve ever spotted a small group of people waiting in line to fill up repurposed bottles with a golden-amber syrup-like liquid, around your neighbourhood, chances are that they’re buying the purest and freshest honey from a local beekeeper. Unlike the commercially manufactured honey you can find stacked in most supermarket shelves, locally-sourced, organic honey is a smaller production and slightly heavier on the pocket. However, hyper-demand and the disappearing green cover is making it increasingly challenging for bees to produce honey, thereby threatening to collapse a co-dependent eco-system. When you do pick up a bottle of honey that is organic or sourced with care, certain factors are helpful in determining if the choice was made with full awareness and not contributing in any way towards adding to the pressures of the demand. Here are some ways in which you can be one step closer to conscious food choices and supporting hyperlocal vendors and farms.
Look for clear and transparent labelling which specifies the type of honey – like raw, organic or local, its source and the producer's information. Avoid honey with vague or misleading labels, or anything that does not have a convincing amount of details that answer all these questions.
Pick Raw/Unfiltered Honey
Raw honey is minimally processed and retains more of its natural flavours and beneficial compounds. Avoid honey that has been excessively filtered and heat-treated to have a darker amber tone, as this could’ve possibly destroyed some of its nutritional value. When honey is exposed to heat consistently, it could also make it harmful for consumption.
Verify The Source
Try to buy honey that is sourced locally or regionally, since locally produced honey tends to be fresher, and supports local vendors, farmers and their communities. Be cautious about honey labelled as a ‘product of multiple countries’ or ‘blended’ honey, finding a clear source might be tricky or impossible.
Organic honey is produced without the use of synthetic pesticides or chemicals. Look for honey with a recognized organic certification, such as FSSAI or anything that indicates its legitimacy. This ensures that the honey was produced using environmentally friendly practices and doesn’t disrupt a natural order of your surroundings.
Consider Sustainable Practices
Check if the beekeeper or honey producer follows sustainable and ethical beekeeping practices. Sustainable beekeeping involves providing bees with a healthy environment, not overharvesting and not using harmful chemicals. Alternately, if you have direct access to someone who sells honey extracted from a honeycomb in your neighbourhood, make an attempt to check with them about the condition of the bees’ habitat.
Support Local Beekeepers
Buying honey from local beekeepers or small-scale producers can help sustain local bee populations as well as promote biodiversity. Local beekeepers are often more connected to their communities and are more likely to prioritize ethical and sustainable practices – which means that the honey that you might avail will be of the best quality and packed with nutrients.