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Join Slow Food Upstate at the Travelers Rest Farmers Market for
The Market Talk,
Informative Local Speakers
Questions and Answers for YOU!
Slow Food Upstate presents
Topic: Bees and your Food
and a tasting of 3 rare and disappearing honeys on the Slow Food Ark of Taste.
Sourwood from Pickens, SC made by Charlotte Anderson
Galberry and Tupelo honey from Georgia
We all know that bees make honey.
But how else are they involved in getting food to our tables?
See the summer issue of edible UPCOUNTRY for more local honey.
Honeybees are crucial to our food system
and our health.
Honeybees visit flowers to gather nectar and pollen to make honey. Along the way, some grains of pollen drop onto the sticky reproductive parts of other flowers, in a process known as pollination.
Pollination is the first step in turning flowers into food. One in every 3 bites of the food we eat is the direct result of honeybee pollination, adding $15 billion to the US economy. Bees also increase the productivity of fields of animal feed such as alfalfa and clover.
The medicinal purposes of honey have been recognized for centuries, and new benefits are still being discovered. For example, the pollen in local honey can help you develop a resistance to local allergens. However, bees face many threats.
The global phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has killed off a third of the honeybees in numerous countries since 2006. It’s likely that several factors are combining into a perfect lethal storm. A new class of pesticides may be part of the problem. Systemic pesticides are applied to seeds and as a result the pesticide is present in all parts of the plant for the plant’s entire lifetime. That creates more opportunities to kill harmless “non-target” insects like bees.
Other possible contributors to CCD are: overuse of chemicals. The stress to bees of pollinating monoculture fields (like humans, bees need a diversified diet to stay healthy); and the influx of invasive viruses and pests made possible by global trade.
Sourwood Oxydendrum arboretum
Taste: deep, spicy floral and light with hints of baking spices and anise. Color: ranges from pure white to light amber with a slightly gray tint and its texture is defined by a smooth, caramel buttery quality.
Sourwood honey is so rare that a good crop sometimes only surfaces once every decade. It is sought after by honey connoisseurs everywhere. The honey’s scarcity can be attributed to the very small amount of sourwood trees currently growing. If the honey is produced with the expertise of a skilled beekeeper, the taste has no parallel. People sometimes liken the flavor to gingerbread and note a “twang” in the aftertaste. Because purity is key, beekeepers must be trained to have great critical timing skills and attention to detail.
Gallberry Ilex Glabra
Taste: rich, elegant, robust, aromatic, and mildly tangy flavor. It is also high in diastase enzymes which aid in digestion. Color: amber. Gallberry honey is sourced from a small evergreen holly bush (also known as inkberry) that grows along the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast and produces a unique honey that is popular throughout the piney woods and swamps of southeast Florida. Unfortunately, this time-honored, local tradition is threatened by habitat loss to development throughout the area. Today, the untamed forests of the southeast where the plant is ubiquitous are rapidly being developed. For a very short window of time every spring, from late April to early June, the bush blossoms with white flowers that drip nectar, providing beekeepers’ with their only opportunity to make the amber colored honey.
Tupelo Nyssa ogeche
Taste: pear-like and hoppy aroma and a coveted flavor that fans describe as mild, delicate, buttery, floral, like cotton candy and like rosewater. Color: Pure tupelo honey is light amber in color; some note a green cast . These trees are distributed along the borders of rivers, swamps, and ponds that are frequently inundated, mainly in the remote wetlands of Georgia and Florida. Tupelo honey is said to come from trees along just a few rivers, the Apalachicola and Ochlockonee rivers. Because of the trees’ brief flowering time, beekeepers must be precise about getting bees to the trees; often this is accomplished by housing the bees on remote docks that are only accessible by boat. The strictly regional nature of tupelo honey dictates that its production exists in a tiny subculture.