Monday, September 6, 2010

On honey labels and where our food comes from

I did get some feedback from a fellow beekeeper regarding the new honey label I'm planning on using. She cautioned: Beware. Cornell says consumer research says people don’t want to be reminded where the honey comes from. Bees on labels are not recommended.

I appreciated the feedback but at the same time I was flabbergasted. It must have been the Cornell School of Business that was giving that advice. Or perhaps, Cornell's School of Pragmatism. But not Cornell's School of Agriculture or their community outreach program, Cooperative Extension, which educates many in our communities throughout New York State.

Don't remind people that bees make honey? Don't remind people that chickens make eggs? Don't remind people that cows make milk? An ignorant public is in the best interest of business? It is hard to believe that educational institutions are espousing this, especially leading educational institutions like Cornell.

New York State has been working to define a Standard of Identity(SOI) for Honey. This is because of adulterated products entering the market. It seems that not everything being sold as "honey" comes from the honeybees. I wonder how many consumers are aware of this?

The Empire State Honey Producers Association has a resolution endorsing the efforts of New York State to arrive at a Standard of Identity for honey. The very first item in section 1 of the proposed SOI states: “Honey” means the natural sweet substance produced by honeybees from the nectar of plants or excretions of plant sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store, and leave in the honeycomb to ripen and mature.

I like the idea of reminding the public about where my honey comes from. The beauty of the honeybee is to me the best part of the honey. It enhances the flavor. My labels will always have pictures of the lovely creatures who created the sweet, healthy product within.


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