It's Honey Season, Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

by Jessica Pratas
April showers bring May flowers.

And for some, it means honey harvesting is just around the corner. This delicious and magical elixir is both good for you and for the environment. Bees themselves are also sort of miraculous creatures; and not just because of Gwyneth Paltrow's latest beauty tip: apitherapy, which involves deliberately getting stung by bees, to supposedly reduce inflammation and scarring, we'll leave that one alone... for now. 

Honey bees are amazing because these little fellas (and ladies, let's not forget all the work the queens do) pollinate more than $15 billion of crops each year, about one-third of American food groups. But honey bees are in trouble.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) - a phenomenon which is defined by the USDA as "a dead colony with no adult bees or dead bee bodies but with a live queen and usually honey and immature bees still present" is just one of the indicators that something is seriously amiss with our honey bee population. There are a number of other conditions affecting bees that may be caused by a host of pathogens in their environment including pesticides, genetically modified seeds, air pollution and even cell phone signals. 

The bottom line is if honey bees go extinct, food production not only in the U.S., but around the globe, will suffer greatly.

So what can you do? Start by buying (and eating) locally sourced honey. Sweetest advice ever, right?  

Honey is an ingredient that is incredibly easy to use and I’m convinced that it’s the most underutilized condiment in the kitchen. It can be used for sweet dishes, savory dishes and everything in between. It’s a win, win. 

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With Honey Yogurt 

There are times when I need to satisfy my sweet tooth – but I always try to keep it as healthy as possible. Enter honey and yogurt, a dose of a hearty herb like sage really takes this simple fix to the next level. 

What you’ll need:
  • Plain greek yogurt 
  • Sage. I prefer fresh, but dried works too
  • Raspberries
  • Locally sourced honey (Boston Honey Co. for me)

What to do: 
  1. Put 1/3 cup of plain greek yogurt in a bowl
  2. Mince your sage – start with a small amount, add more if you’d prefer
  3. Mix the sage into the yogurt
  4. Garnish yogurt with raspberries 
  5. Finish with a drizzle (or more) of honey

Go Savory With Brussel Sprouts And Honey

What you’ll need:
  • Brussels sprouts 
  • Locally sourced honey
  • Salt and pepper

What to do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400* F
  2. Cut your brussels sprouts in half and place in a mixing bowl
  3. Season with course salt and pepper to taste
  4. Drizzle with honey so all the sprouts are evenly coated (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  5. Line a baking sheet with tin foil to keep clean up manageable 
  6. Spread the honey coated Brussels sprouts evenly on the sheet
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes until they’re crisp on the outside and tender on the inside

...And Everything In-between

Some people think that eating local honey can help if you have allergies. If eating it by the spoon full is your jam, have at it. If it helps with your allergies then it’s an added bonus! 

Of course, most people associate honey with tea. It’s also a good choice on a cold day or when your throat is sore. The honey naturally coats and soothes your throat, which can provide some relief. 

Last but not least, a product that has recently landed a deal with Whole Foods: BeeSweet Lemonade. Founded by an amazing 11-year-old named Mikaila, BeeSweet Lemonade uses local honey to sweeten their drinks instead of sugar. And as if it couldn’t get any better, they donates a portion of the proceeds to organizations fighting to save honey bees. 

How To Find Local Honey

Supporting local suppliers is a trend that is slowly becoming the norm – and I can’t get enough. The next time you’re at the grocery store, or better yet the farmer's market, be sure to take the time to read the labels to make sure it's actually produced and processed locally. Some stores, like Whole Foods, will put a specific label on the shelf to designate what’s made locally.  

Of course a classic Google search is a safe bet as well. Searching “local honey near 02116" brought up a half dozen local honey farms I had never heard of before. But you can be sure I’ll be visiting them soon. 

One of the coolest things about local honey is the wide variety of flavor profiles based on the plants the bees' pollinate while making it. Clover, lavender, notes of citrus, the skies the limit and you'll certainly taste the difference from jar to jar... so be sure to try a lot!  
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