Head to Union Square Farmer's Market to pick up Andrew's Honey from your hood!

Head to Union Square Farmer's Market to pick up Andrew's Honey from your hood!

There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing your next bottle of honey. You may think you are getting a great deal when you pick up low priced honey at your chain supermarket, but guess what? It might not even contain pollen, which is what technically makes it honey. So unfortunately you may have been consuming plain nectar, with health benefits removed and in many cases, corn syrup added. So why is the pollen removed from bargain honey? Good question.

There are a couple main reasons. In 2001 the federal trade commission implemented tariffs on Chinese honey (where most of the world's "honey" comes from) in an effort to keep American beekeepers in business. (As you can imagine Chinese honey was much cheaper to purchase.) The pollen in honey is the only way to determine the origin of the product when it is tested. Removing the pollen is a major loophole... so "honey" with Chinese origins is often sneakily shipped through other countries before reaching the US, disguising the origin to avoid the high tax. Another reason for pollen removal is because real, natural honey will solidify and crystallize over time, making it difficult to pour and less appealing to purchase off a grocer's shelf. 

To ensure that your honey is real, filled with enzymes and antioxidants, look for labels with Apiary's names and locations. It's best to buy raw honey; most honey is heated when it is processed, which eliminates many phytonutrients. Keep this in mind if you like honey in your tea... while it's a better alternative to refined sugar as a sweetener, you will have to consume non-heated honey additionally to reap nutritional benefit. And like most things, try to buy your honey local. If you can, head to your local farmer's market and support our country's beekeepers! New Yorkers, visit Andrew's Honey at Union Square Farmer's Market for the most local you can get! Also look for Tremblay Apiary's stand at Union Square. Try their Ambrosia Bee Complex, which is a mixture of Royal Jelly, pollen, propolis and honey.

Check out this list of "honey" brands to steer clear of. Unfortunately I can't find a more recent compilation than this one from 2011, but it's probably safest to avoid these brands in the future as well.