Why you should eat raw honey (and shouldn't all honey be raw?!)

My husband and I recently came across this charming little store here in Cambridge which sold nothing but honey and honey products. It was adorable. We were delighted to be treated to a honey tasting (yay!) and went home with a big tub of deeelicious Atchafalaya honey. It was a good day.

I've been thinking a lot about honey lately (I know, the mind of a health coach is... different...ahem) as I recently read that according to ayurvedic teaching, honey is a super nutritious food but is considered toxic when heated. This alarmed me as I'm sad to say that any honey that isn't raw is heated (thanks to the industrialization of our food supply).

It's strange -- isn't honey by its very nature a "raw" food... Seriously, what do these people do to honey to make it "un-raw". The answer is: a lot... commercial honey has been:

  • Pasteurized -- cooked at super high temperatures and then rapidly cooled. This destroys much of honey's enzymes and nutritional value (and as I mentioned, the heating makes honey toxic according to ayurveda)
  • Filtered -- to make it look prettier and easier to package and sell. Sadly, it is often marketing that determines how dark or light your honey is, rather than its natural state
  • Mixed -- notice how the commercial brand of honey you buy always tastes the same?  That jar may hold honey from different continents (my generic Whole Foods one, which may I add is "organic", says that the honey comes from Brazil and India!) You don't get to taste the beautiful differences and subtle notes that we experienced in our honey tasting.

It's a shame that our food supply has become so commercialized. I suggest that you treat yourself to some delicious (and if possible, local) raw honey the next time you come across some and enjoy the difference.