I’m going to take a guess that many breathed a collective happy sigh of relief when they heard farmer’s markets could open up this spring and summer. I have friends who are frequent shoppers and I can understand why many enjoy the Saturday morning experience. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers along with honey, jams and fresh baking line the tables under the tents. The variety of fresh, local, edible products is a feast for the eyes and the palette. The camaraderie and small town flavor bring out all the feels.
One of the farmer’s market products I am sure to keep in my kitchen pantry is local honey. I learned a few years ago that honey that is native to where a person lives has medicinal qualities that are specific to that area. Raw, unpasteurized honey is high in antioxidants which help protect the body from cell damage due to free radicals. It is also an antiseptic, naturally containing hydrogen peroxide. One can use it as a wound dressing, it is a potent prebiotic, soothes sore throats and is a cough suppressant. The many antibacterial, antifungal, immune-boosting benefits of honey are good reasons to keep raw, local, unpasteurized honey on hand.
My dad was a beekeeper during my childhood years. I believe the reason why he gave it up was because my grandpa was deathly allergic to bee stings. I have many memories of extraction day; the day the honey was extracted from the honeycomb and poured into pails. There is nothing like honey right out of the honeycomb! The actual extraction of the honey was therapeutic and mesmerizing. It was a fun family day, working together to bring in the harvest of honey.
There are approximately 1,100 beekeepers, presently, in Saskatchewan and that number is growing. People get into bees for a plethora of reasons: health benefits, holistic benefits, improving the pollination of neighboring plants, as well as the business opportunities that are available for honey, beeswax, etc. Only about 10 per cent of beekeepers are commercial operators; the rest of the beekeeping community do it more as a sideline or hobby.
Bees are incredible creatures. They are an excellent example of the power of teamwork. According to Ian Eaton, who runs a successful beekeeping business north of Saskatoon, “Each bee produces about enough honey to fill an eyedropper, with 70 per cent of it being water. And yet, as a group, they bring in massive amounts ...anywhere between 114 to 160 kg per hive each year.” Saskatchewan is well-suited to the beekeeping industry due to the climate and agriculture.
Honey is also the only food that won’t spoil. It has an indefinite shelf life; as long as it is kept sealed and no water is added to it, it will be edible for decades and even centuries. In fact, archeologists excavating Egypt’s famous pyramids found honey that was over 3000 years and it was fully edible. One danger to note, is that raw, unpasteurized honey should not be given to infants, one year or younger.
You will find 61 references to honey in the Word of God. It is a symbol of abundance, good health, ease, prosperity and was also an honored gift.” Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
Besides the hard-working, team-working attributes of bees, we can choose to use a little honey in our conversations versus vinegar because as the saying goes, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” This weekend, you may wish to check out your local market and pick up some fresh honey!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.