Honey is a very natural product, superior to refined or artificial sweeteners. We sell our honey at the local farmer’s market, where produce is locally-grown, minimally-processed and sold directly from the producer to the consumer. If you have any questions regarding the manner in which the item was grown, you can talk to the grower, face-to-face.
Honey’s noble mystique, fueled by the bucolic ambiance of a farmer’s market, leaves people believing that our honey is organic. How could it be anything but organic? It’s all-natural, right?
Here’s the bad news: Our honey is not organic.
Here’s the even worse news: We cannot even intimate that our honey is organic, even if we raised our bees and produced our honey without synthetic chemicals, which, by the way, we don’t use.
The USDA 1990 Farm Bill established the Food Protection Act, out of which originated the National Organic Program. The definition of, “organic,” had become so diverse, so abused and unsupervised that our government felt compelled to step in and level the playing field by making some rules and regulations.
So, the USDA defined and articulated stringent requirements for what it means to be, “organic.” Thus, anyone who raises organic crops, including fruits and vegetables, and produces organic livestock and their products, must comply with these requirements. Every organic producer was required to maintain rigorously detailed records
Further, anyone wanting to produce their products organically had to find a third-party certifier to hold the producer accountable to their management plan. The process is tedious and expensive. But the idea was to normalize what it means to be, “organic.”
The first requirement to produce organic honey is to draw a circle around the location where I keep my hives. The radius of this circle is 2.2 miles which takes in 9,200 acres. Beekeeping experts believe the bees will remain within this circle as they forage for nectar and pollen.
My job, if I want to declare my honey as organically produced, is to interview every farmer, every rancher, every tenant and landlord and ask them what chemicals they apply to the crops grown within those 9,200 acres. If you know anything about our production agriculture, this will include a lot of farmers, many of whom take advantage of our modern technology that includes significant amounts of chemical inputs.
I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing; it’s just the way we produce huge volumes of food in this country.
If anyone, even if it is only one farmer, applies synthetic products (fertilizer, herbicide, etc.) to their farm within those 9,200 acres, I am forbidden to refer to my honey as organic. Since I cannot control where bees fly within this very large circle, everything grown within the circle must be raised organically, and if not, then I cannot call my honey, “organic.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this requirement is just not possible in our area. And if I do not, or cannot raise my bees organically, I am forbidden to use the word, “organic,” according to our government.
So, in a word, we are not organic even though we do not use the legally-approved, beekeeping chemicals available to us. While not organic, I do adhear to sustainable practices. I'd like to think my management is organic as is possible. More information is available at https://www.createspace.com/4542110