The true liquid gold, a curious gift from Mother Nature, appreciated by dozens of species. Cultivated by the hardest working among us and one of the most important organisms on planet earth.
Honey is almost ubiquitous in cultures around the world. It has been found in ancient archaeological sites and today it is a favourite ingredient in the cuisine of millions of people. Ever sweet, ever fresh and everlasting, honey is a unique and amazing food that deserves to be shared.
What do we know about honey?
Honey is a very sweet, viscous fluid produced by bees of the genus Apis and some other species of wasps and insects. These bees travel from flower to flower collecting pollen from the flowers that sticks to their hairs and legs. While the bees perform this function as a supply for the hive, the flowers use the bees as pollinators to complete their reproductive cycles, in a symbiotic partnership.
Once collected in pollen and other substances from the flowers, the bees return to their hives to be transformed by combining them with their own substances, deposited, dehydrated and stored in the combs for maturation.
Honey has been used for thousands of years all over the world as a food, medicine, flavouring and sweetener.
The first evidence of its consumption appears in cave paintings from the Mesolithic period, around 6,000 BC, and the Sumerians already knew about its medicinal properties around 2,500 BC. [Wikpedia.org]
Honey has different qualities, crystallisations and flavours depending on the area and especially the flora used by the pollinating bees to collect the pollen.
Depending on their origin they can be recognised as:
- Flower honey: honey produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. There are many different varieties. It can be Monofloral or Multifloral.
- Highland or mountain honey and desert honey.
Tree honeys and resins.
- Highland or mountain honey and desert honey.
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Importance of Honey.
Honey is a sugar and sugars are hygroscopic, i.e. they contain very little water but can absorb moisture if exposed to it. Bacteria and other microorganisms that normally contaminate food cannot survive in such low concentrations of water. Honey is sterile, it does not get damaged or spoil over time as long as the humidity does not exceed 18%.
And as if that were not enough, when the bees deposit pollen in the honeycomb, they do so by secreting hydrogen peroxide, also known in medicine as hydrogen peroxide. A compound used to clean and disinfect wounds.
That is why it is common for grandmothers to recommend applying honey to bumps, bruises and wounds. -Sweet Remedy Literally.
And well… Honey is sweet, very sweet, the sweetest substance found in nature second only to dates. Its sweetening capabilities surpass those of sugar cane and of course when honey is pure it contains none of the problems of processed sugars.
The other importance of honey.
Where there is honey, there are bees, where there are bees, there is life. Those little yellow workers, tireless, buzzing, diligent and powerful. The perfect metaphor for teamwork, they are the star pollinators of the animal kingdom.
Without bees we would not only lose honey, we would lose hundreds of other products, plants and even animals that owe their food chain to the existence of bees and their pollinating work.
Some of the crops and products dependent on bees:
- The Almonds
- And thousands of plants
Bees are in danger.
The abundant use of powerful agrochemicals and pesticides has considerably reduced the number of bees. This coupled with the spread of cities and pollution has led to a significant decline in bee populations. Without bees we will not only lose honey but also the crops and products mentioned above and many others.
And with them the biodiversity of other plants and animals that depend on these crops for their existence.
Why should we consume honey?
1.Honey is delicious.
And a superfood, rich in sugars such as glucose, it is a good source of protein, malt and can provide supplementation of vitamin intakes such as C, B2, B3, B5 and B6. It also contains no fats in any form, neither saturated fats, fatty acids nor cholesterol.
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2.It is an excellent substitute for refined and processed sugars.
Sweet commercial foods tend to be processed and super sweetened with refined sugars, these chemically optimised sugars raise blood sugar levels causing problems with insulin production, excess insulin leads to various cells in the body becoming immune or impermeable to insulin leading to possible liver failure and diseases such as diabetes.
3. Support for a sustainable economy.
Every time you buy honey you help the economy of beekeepers, in Costa Rica they are generally families with space and land dedicated to varied and diverse crops that are preserved in order to give the bees thousands of flowers to pollinate in order to do their work.
In this way, every honey product sold is an incentive for the conservation of rich, varied and agrochemical- and insecticide-free agricultural areas to preserve the life of the bees.
Consuming bee products is an activity without loss, especially when they are produced by local beekeepers. In tropical countries with high biodiversity, preserving bees is also preserving the richness of ecosystems.
And in turn, the more varied the ecosystem, the richer, more varied and more flavoursome the honey will be, conveying the unique qualities of each pollen and flower to the final product.
It is also an excellent alternative to start a healthy change in our consumption of sugars. Other products such as bee pollen are also an excellent source of protein and vegetable carbohydrates.
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