Last week it seemed like all of my friends simultaneously recovered from their colds, and I offered all of them the same tried and true advice: local honey. Honey delivers pollen allergens found in the air around your area in small and manageable doses that build up the immune system. This has long been the idea behind naturopathy, but it’s part of mainstream medicine as well. All you have to do is look at the recent article regarding peanut allergies to realize most people’s bodies can develop a tolerance to allergens over time.
I’ve been seeing Marshall’s honey over and over again at Whole Foods. Marshall’s specializes in microclimates in Northern California, and so has very local area blends such as “Marin Wildflower,” “Sonoma Wildflower,” “Napa Valley Honey,” and “Berkeley ‘Buzzerkely’ Wildflower.” They even cater to the allergy season with special allergy relief packs; of which, it’s best to start consuming in winter, before the allergy season hits.
Generally, the closer to home the better, but there is also a “California Wildflower” blend and several other specialty honeys. They do varietal and single source honeys, of which my favorite is the 5 star Star Thistle. It’s a lightly-colored honey with an accompanying light flavor. It’s pure candy! And though I don’t recommend it for recipes because it is not strongly sweet, I do recommend it for iced teas. Yum.
While running through their lists of honey, I also discovered an organic honey, which somewhat surprised me. Bees require much different standards for organic labeling than a lot of other livestock. The flying radius of the bee, around 3 km, means that not only does the apiary need to be placed on an organically-maintained piece of land, but it must also be at least 3 km away from any chemically-maintained ones. The organic honey I tried had a dark look and a slightly gritty taste, but did not taste much different than the other honeys.
Most of their honeys are labeled unfiltered and raw. They come in a range of sizes and prices from $3.50 for the wedding/party favor 2 oz. jars to $88 for a 12 lb jar. How one uses that much honey baffles the mind, but I suppose honey lasts forever without refrigeration and that could be part of it.