The global organic honey market size was valued at USD 8.17 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 13.02 billion by 2029, recording a 6.0% CAGR through the forecast period.
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The soaring market growth is driven by natural-ingredient consumer preference coupled with organic honey’s innumerable uses and potential health benefits.
Although USDA has laid standards and regulations for other organic products, it is yet to adopt the procedures for certifying honey as organic in the United States.
Besides, the environmental requirements for organic honey production are quite challenging, from managing the colonies to feeding the bees. Hence, beekeepers in the United States cannot claim their honey to be organic.
And how come there is organic certified honey in the United States? USDA recognizes organic-certified honey from other countries as fit for consumption in the United States. As such, the raw organic honey in stores is sourced from special hives in Brazil’s remote regions.
But what is so special about organic raw honey? What difference does it make from non-organic honey? Can you find locally produced organic honey in the United States?
This article explores the process behind organic honey, its benefits and how it’s different from non-organic honey. You will also learn where and how to find locally produced organic honey.
What is organic honey?
Organic honey is produced without chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In other words the journey is free of all these elements, right from what the bees consume the confines of their environment. This is the principle that organic farming standards and practices dictate.
How is organic honey produced?
Honeybees are selective and can fly up to three miles from their colony for the best nectar-producing flowers. That challenges organic beekeepers as they don’t have much control over which flowers their bees should visit.
The only way to guarantee organic honey is to ensure the colony is within an environment that is 100% organic. There 2 ways to achieve that:
Building beehives in a wild area for organic honey
Organic honey is produced when a beekeeper places their hives in an area not treated with synthetic herbicides or pesticides. The idea is to have the surrounding 5-mile radius of the colonies free of non-organic substances for the bees to produce organic honey.
While it can be difficult to find such an area in the United States, it’s possible in the rural areas of some countries like Brazil. Once established, the apiary will remain in this location year-round, and the bees can keep making more honey in the colonies after harvest.
Migrating a colony to an organic-certified farm for organic honey
You can also achieve organic honey production through colony migration. Beekeepers transport their colonies in trucks from one organic farm to another, but there is always the risk that the new location may have insufficient nectar and pollen for the bees to survive year-round.
Before moving the colonies, beekeepers must prepare the equipment for storing the honey (supers or honey boxes). On arrival, the beekeeper places the empty boxes on the colonies, in which the bees fill nectar over time.
Harvesting is done when there’s no room left in the honey boxes..
In case of food insufficiency, beekeepers must supplement bees’ diet with organically acceptable sugar water or corn syrup feed in order for them to stay alive. Alternatively, the beekeeper can move the colony to another organically certified farm.
Raw organic honey VS regular honey [the difference]
Raw organic honey is the best quality, as it has not been overheated or exposed to chemicals. Pure honey is 100% real, meaning no additives, but it can be non-organic because the environment within which it was produced was uncontrolled.
Regular store-bought varieties typically contain artificial additives and other ingredients. Hence, they are non-organic.
While raw honey can be filtered or unfiltered, most pure honey is filtered to remove impurities. Organic raw honey is considered the best as it is free from chemicals and hasn’t been stripped of important nutrients through heating.
Benefits of organic raw honey
Raw organic honey is considered of the best quality as it is unfiltered, meaning it still contains some pollen from the flowers to which the bees were exposed. From serving as a natural sweetener to its ability to retard chronic diseases, organic raw honey is invaluable.
Here are some of the most studied properties of honey as a treatment alternative:
- Rich in antioxidants which help protect cells from damage, free radicals and oxidative stress
- Anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory induction ability to reduce inflammation and swelling
- May delay the development of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases
- Inhibits bacterial pathogens by interfering with their pathogenesis capabilities
- Can control viral infection, such as influenza virus, providing protection against colds, flu, etc
- Acts as a prebiotic agent to improve gut health
What makes honey organic?
The control over the bees, from what they feed on to where they live, makes the difference between organic honey and any other type of honey. Bees produce organic honey when kept in an area free of pesticides, genetically modified crops (GMOs) and synthetic chemicals.
Where can you find locally-produced honey?
If you’re in the United States and looking for locally produced honey, farmers’ markets are a reliable source. Wildflower honey, precisely Clover Honey, is the most popular variety available in North and South Dakota.
Most locally produced honey is labeled “organic” without necessarily displaying the USDA organic label official certification. However, the sellers still abide by all organic requirements and truthfully advertise their products.
If you are around Kansas City, this local honey finder can help you find the nearest local farmer for organic honey.
How long does organic honey last?
For as long as you want to use it! USDA recommends storing honey for up to 12 months for the best quality. After this period, the honey will still be safe to consume, although its texture and taste may change.
Your honey may become cloudy or crystallized, but that does not mean that it’s no longer safe. Heating it in warm water or microwave restores the original consistency.