Oh, Honey!

Jun 26, 2015

Oh, honey! Are you better than all the others?

Make way for the Good Food Awards competition, opening July 6.

This year is the second consecutive year for the honey category. Last year more than 50 beekeepers from throughout the United States entered their honey.

Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, is chairing the committee. She's joined by fellow members Emily Brown, owner of AZ Queen Bee and winner of a 2014 Good Food Award in Honey; Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine; Marina Marchese, founder of the American Honey Tasting Society and co-author (with Kim Flottum) of The Honey Connoisseur; and Mea McNeil, writer, beekeeper and organic farmer.

Here's what Harris advises:

  • Put July 6, 2015 (sometime in the afternoon) on your calendar
  • Go to the website: http://www.goodfoodawards.org/
  • Click on the ‘Honey' link to read the NEW criteria (also listed below)
  • Click on Entrant Information to download a form.

Harris says there are more than 300 uique types of honey in the United States. "The Good Food Awards will showcase honeys most distinctive in clarity and depth of flavor, produced by beekeepers practicing good animal husbandry and social responsibility -- from rooftop urban hives to busy bees pollinating organic orchards and meadows filled with wildflowers. Awards will be given out in Liquid or Naturally Crystallized Honey, Creamed Honey, Comb, and Infused Honey subcategories."

So, what are the rules? Among them:

  • All honey must be the bona fide produce of the entrant's own bees.
  • It must be harvested between August 2014 – August 2015.
  • It must be extracted with minimal heat (100°) and after extraction, not exposed to heat greater than 120°.
  • It must be strained and/or filtered to leave in pollen. 
  • It can be made with inclusions (such as fruit, alcohol and herbs):
    • That grow domestically, inclusions are locally sourced wherever possible; traceable; and grown without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers.
    • That are not grown domestically on a commercial scale; they are farm-direct, certified organic, or Fair Trade certified.
  • It must be produced in the United States

There are other rules as well, including being responsibly reproduced.

Is honey the nectar of the gods? Or the soul of a field of flowers? Both. How many flowers must honey bees tap to make one pound of honey? Two million, according to the National Honey Board. The average worker honey bee makes only 1/12 of a teaspoon in her lifetime. How long have bees been producing honey from flowering plants? 10-20 million years. How many flowers does a honey bee visit during one collection trip? 50-100.  See more questions here.

The Good Food Awards, according to its website, is all about celebrating "tasty, authentic and responsibly produced foods." The organization presents the awards at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.  This year, the sixth annual, will include 13 categories:  beer, cider, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, honey, pickles, preserves, spirits, oil and the newest category, pantry. Awards will be given to producers and their food communities from each of five regions of the U.S.

Meanwhile, Amina Harris says we're tasting honey all wrong! Read the interview in Civil Eats.