— Albert Einstein
By Sofia Wilt
In 2011 scientists from the United Nations declared the decline of the honeybee a global phenomena. Technically it’s being called Bee Colony Collapse. Theories explaining the collapse include disturbances in the electromagnetic field from cell phones, aliens (my personal favorite), GMO’s, lack of proper nutrition, pesticides and other chemicals released into the environment. Whichever the case it’s serious, gravely serious, for the health of the entire planet. Just in the United States alone bees contribute to over $15 billion to the economy by pollinating over 130 of our crops. Even more, there is incalculable benefit bees impart by pollinating plants that aren’t for our food but for the vitality of various ecosystems worldwide.
Honey has been used as food and medicine since ancient times, earliest records of beekeeping date back to over 700 BC. If kept in a sealed container honey will remain unspoiled for thousands of years – it’s been found in Egyptian tombs over 2000 years old. No other food can stay preserved this long. Most sugars tend to feed and attract bacteria but oddly honey does the opposite. The unique chemical composition of low water content and relatively high acidic level creates a low pH environment that makes it very unfavourable for bacteria, yeast, mold, viruses and fungus to grow. Romans used it to treat wounds on the battlefield, modern aestheticians use it for spa treatments. Nutritionally, it is considered a true superfood when consumed in it’s raw form. While it is very sweet, it’s balanced by vitamins and minerals which minimize spiking one’s blood sugar like a refined sugar. It has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, it has enzymes as well as naturally occurring probiotics which both promote strong digestion and immune strength.
Honey is widely available in Hawaii and our bees contribute to the pollination of native and introduced flowering plants and are essential to our farming practices. Colony Collapse is occurring here on the island and the best thing we can do is to support our local beekeepers. There are incredible varieties – macnut, lehua, coconut, the list goes on and on. Befriend a beekeeper or simply buy local organic honey from a farmers market. Use it as your primary sweetener. Remember what Einstein said.
HONEY CITRUS SALAD DRESSING
One tablespoon local organic raw honey
Juice of a lemon, lime or grapefruit
Â ¼ cup mac nut, olive or other salad-friendly oil
Two tablespoons minced herbs, such as mint, parsley, cilantro, basil
teaspoon minced fresh garlic and/or ginger if desired
fresh cracked pepper
sea salt to taste
Combine all ingredients with a whisk until thoroughly combined, adjust seasonings if needed. Allow to sit for half an hour for flavors to marry. I like a sweet dressing like this over bitter greens such as massaged kale, arugula or watercress, which tends to balance out the bite these greens have. Again by consuming honey in its raw & unheated form you are getting its maximum nutritional value.
Sofia Wilt is a former park ranger and Hawaii County dispatcher who now works as a natural foods chef.