If you are going to go through the effort to purchase honey, why not buy the absolute best for your money. But where do you buy it? From the supermarket, the farmers market or your local beekeeper? If you buy it from the supermarket, how do you know if it’s really pure honey? Is there any guarantee that honey from a beekeeper is the best?
Let’s try to sort it all out so you are armed with enough knowledge to feel confident in your purchase. By following a few simple buying rules you won’t need to worry about a bad jar of honey. Now, let’s explore the best and worst places to buy honey.
THE BEST PLACES TO BUY HONEY
A farmers market is a wonderful place where local farmers and artisans come together to sell their products. They are proud of their delicious items and will usually talk at length about how they grew it, made it, or raised it. Many local beekeepers sell their honey at farmers markets. A jar of honey from a beekeeper is usually unadulterated and raw. This takes me to the second source.
Trusted Local Beekeeper
Notice that I described the beekeeper as “trusted.” Get to know him/her. A beekeeper works very hard to bring you the best honey. As I mentioned, this honey is usually superior honey because it is unprocessed and is raw with nothing added.
Don’t be afraid to ask the beekeeper questions. He or she should be happy to provide answers. Why not ask how the honey was produced. For the best honey, buy it from a local beekeeper who only strains the honey and never filters it. Honey should not be heated past 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, you can ask the beekeeper if you can see the process he uses to produce the honey. That would be a real educational treat not only for you but your kids as well. If the beekeeper has a website, read about the honey and collection process.
Where can you find a local beekeeper? Look for roadside signs or you can visit your farmers market. If that doesn’t work, Google your local Beekeepers Association, and they can help you locate one.
Health Food Store
A health food or natural food store usually stocks superior products aimed at wellness. The store clerks are generally very knowledgeable about health matters and are extremely friendly and willing to take the time to answer questions and health concerns. They will probably sell the best honey, and they will try to help you obtain information about the honey sold in their store. Can you assume that all their honey is 100% pure and unadulterated? No. But you have a good chance that it is, and you can receive the necessary help in finding out if it is not.
THE WORST PLACES TO BUY HONEY
Stores that Display Their Honey in a Window
Have you ever walked by a quaint little specialty store that had beautiful jars of honey in the window that just made you come in to take a closer look? That might be okay for an item of clothing, but not for honey. Why?
Honey should be stored away from direct heat and sunlight because excessive heat over time will affect the beneficial antibacterial properties of honey. That’s why you’ll find that some honey, especially Manuka, is stored in dark containers. However, when people buy honey, they want to see the color and other physical characteristics of the honey before buying. And let’s face it, there is a sort of magical thing that happens when sunlight hits a jar of honey. It gives off a beautiful luminosity that is almost breathtaking.
So if you want good quality honey, buy the jars that are stored away from sunshine and heat, and if it’s in the window display, leave it there.
Honey in Supermarkets
I’d like to preface this section by saying that not all honey sold in supermarkets is inferior; in fact, you can find quality honey, but it is the exception. The majority of honey sold in the big stores are overprocessed, leaving little to no beneficial properties. A large percentage of this honey is adulterated (mixed with other things). These honey distributors will usually combine honey from many different sources, so it’s hard to know the quality of honey for each source used.
Having said that, many people simply don’t have access to a local beekeeper or farmers market, and a supermarket is their only option.
If that is your situation, what can you do? You can’t rely on the label to determine whether the product is of high quality, but you can try to purchase honey that is labeled “raw.” If possible, buy honey that has a beekeeper’s name or a reputable company’s website name on the label where you can research and contact them to ask questions. The location of the hives and the type of flower on the label is also good to see. Here is an example (Wedderspoon Dandelion Honey):
A “Beekeeper” with No Bees!
Sometimes a farm will sell honey but that doesn’t mean they are beekeepers – they just buy and sell honey. So you can’t assume that they are the ones that produced it. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask questions!
A Useful Resource to Locate Superior Honey
If you’re still a little confused about how to buy honey, not to worry! I found an awesome tool – the National Honey Board. They have done all the legwork and have compiled a handy-dandy list of beekeepers in your area. They have a page on their website where you can drill down and search for specifics such as location, origin, kinds of honey, etc. Check them out – National Honey Board. I think you’ll find their website very helpful.
So, the next time you purchase honey, I hope these tips will help you in determining the best and worst places to buy honey in your area. Just like anything else, you want the best product for your hard-earned money. By doing a little due diligence, you won’t have any problems in snagging a jar of the best and most delicious honey available in your area.
What about you? Where do you buy your honey? Leave your tips below.