A Brief History Of Honey Markets Commerce Essay


The site further adds that honey has been used since ancient times both as a food and as a medicine. Dating back to at least 700 BC, Apiculture is the practice of beekeeping to produce honey. Honey has been regarded as sacred for many centuries because of its sweet properties as well as its rarity. Honey was used for religious ceremonies in order to pay tribute to the gods and also to embalm the dead. Even before, honey was used for a variety of medicinal and cosmetic purposes and was usually reserved for the cooking of the wealthy since honey was expensive and only a few could afford it.

BREAKER: Honey has been regarded as sacred for many centuries because of its sweet properties as well as its rarity.

Honey-making Process

According to whfoods.com, making honey begins when the bees feast on flowers, collecting the flower nectar in their mouths. This nectar then mixes with special enzymes in the bees' saliva, an alchemical process that turns it into honey. The bees carry the honey back to the hive where they deposit it into the cells of the hive's walls. The fluttering of their wings provides the necessary ventilation to reduce the moisture's content making it ready for consumption.

Nutritional Content of Honey

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Source: www.whfoods.com

Honey Today: Popularity and commercialization of Honey

According to whfoods.com, the prestige of honey continued for millennia until one fateful event in culinary and world history - the "discovery" of refined sugar made from sugar cane or sugar beets, once these became more widely available, they were in great demand since they provided a relatively inexpensive form of sweetening. With their growing popularity, honey became displaced by sugar for culinary use. Since then, although honey is still used for sweetening, much of its use has become focused on its medicinal properties and its use in confectionary.

The Delicious Forms of Honey

Most of us know honey as a sweet, golden liquid. However, honey can be found in a variety of forms.

Honey Form


Comb Honey

Nothing comes more naturally than this! This is honey in its original form. You will know if its the real thing when you find honey inside the honeycomb.  The beeswax comb is edible!

Cut Comb

Similar to comb honey, this version has added honey comb chunks in a jar, a.k.a liquid-cut comb combination.

Liquid Honey

This version is completely free of comb/beeswax and only has visible crystals, liquid honey that has been extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining. This is the most popular form of honey used in a variety of cooking and baking dishes.

Naturally Crystallized Honey

Naturally crystallized honey is honey in which part of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized.  It is safe to eat.

Whipped (or Cremed) Honey

Also known as cremed honey, whipped honey is brought to the market in a crystallized state. The crystallization is controlled so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter or jelly. This is the most preferred type of honey in many countries around the world, preferred also during breakfast time.

Source: http://www.honey.com/nhb/about-honey/

Honey Products

The website www.honey.com further adds that sometimes some honey products do not meet the compositional criteria for pure honey, however there are products consisting in whole or in part of honey.

Honey Product


Dried Honey

This refers to honey that has been dehydrated over very high heat. It is then mixed with various starches and sugars in order to keep it free-flowing. However, it is not true honey.

Flavored/Fruited Honey

This type refers to honey that is mixed with fruit, coloring or flavoring. Though delicious, it is not pure.

Infused Honey

Infused honey is honey that has had flavors of herbs, spices, peels, etc. added to it by steeping.

Kosher Honey (Specially Certified Honey)

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This is a specially certified kind of honey because Kosher honey is produced, processed and packaged in accordance to Jewish dietary regulations and also certified by a Kosher organization.

Organic Honey (Specially Certified Honey)

Similar to Kosher honey, Organic honey is produced, processed and packaged in accordance to USDA regulations and is certified by a USDA certified organization.



The uses of Honey:

Honey as a beauty Essential

According to prevention.com, with only 2-4 tablespoons of honey, specifically buckwheat honey, will significantly help to fight aging. The researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, who analyzed 19 varieties, dark honey like buckwheat or blueberry contains the most antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and may reduce the risks of:

heart disease


cognitive decline

macular degeneration

The site further adds that instead of using refined sugar to flavor your food, whisk small doses of honey to oatmeal, plain yogurt, tea, and even to your salad dressings for a touch of homemade sweetness.

Honey Health Benefits

The health benefits of honey depend on its quality. Based on www.whfoods.com, raw honey contains small amounts of the same resins found in propolis. Propolis, sometimes called "bee glue," is actually a complex mixture of resins and other substances that honeybees use to seal the hive and make it safe from bacteria and other micro-organisms.

The website adds honeybees make propolis by combining plant resins with their own secretions. However, substances like road tar have also been found in propolis. Bee keepers sometimes use special screens around the inside of the hive boxes to trap propolis, since bees will spread this substance around the honeycomb and seal cracks with the anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal resins.

The resins found in propolis only represent a small part of the phytonutrients found in propolis and honey, however. Other phytonutrients found both in honey and propolis have been shown to possess cancer-preventing and anti-tumor properties as presented by www.whfoods.com.These substances include caffeic acid methyl caffeate, phenylethyl caffeate, and phenylethyl dimethylcaffeate. When raw honey is extensively processed and heated, the benefits of these phytonutrients are largely eliminated.

For upper respiratory infection

For symptomatic relief of nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty, a single night-time dose of buckwheat honey is an effective alternative treatment compared to a single dose of dextromethorphan (DM) adds www.whfoods.com.

According to James M. Steckelberg, MD of Mayo clinic: drinking tea or warm lemon water mixed with honey is a time-honored way to soothe a sore throat. But honey may be an effective cough suppressant, too. In one study, children age 2 and older with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) of honey at bedtime. The honey seemed to reduce night-time coughing and improve sleep. In fact, in the study, honey appeared to be as effective as the cough suppressant dextromethorphan in typical over-the-counter doses. Since honey is low-cost and widely available, it might be worth a try.

{Suggested images: teaspoon with honey; sick child in bed; child being given medicine using a spoon}

However, due to the risk of infant botulism, never give honey to a child younger than age 1. Dr. Steckelberg adds that coughing isn't all bad. It helps clear mucus from your airway. If you or your child is otherwise healthy, there's usually no reason to suppress a cough.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recommended that children under six should not be given over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, due to potentially harmful side effects. However, it's important to note that the Penn State College of Medicine study did not attempt to test the potential benefits of buckwheat honey for children under two, and recommendations by the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) and other children's health organizations for a total avoidance of honey by children one year and younger still make good sense. The AAP's major concern here is risk of infantile botulism that might result from the presence of Clostridium botulinum bacteria in the honey.

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In the 1st International Symposium on Honey and Human Health, held in Sacramento, CA, January 8, 2008, opened a number of great findings on honey:

Honey is composed of a large amount of friendly bacteria: 6 species of lactobacilli and 4 species of bifidobacteria which explains the "mysterious therapeutic properties of honey."

The antioxidants in honey, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress, frequently by a larger factor than can be explained by their actual amount, may be beneficial for diabetics and help to improve endothelial function (the function of the cells that make up the lining of our blood vessels) and vascular health.

Honey for Liver Health

In the same symposium, it was found out that honey is the ideal liver fuel because it contains a nearly 1:1 ratio of fructose to glucose. Fructose "unlocks" the enzyme from the liver cell's nucleus that is necessary for the incorporation of glucose into glycogen (the form in which sugar is stored in the liver and muscle cells).

Honey for weight-loss, good memory and decreased anxiety

In a year-long animal study comparing the effects of sucrose, honey and a low glycemic index (GI) sugar-free diet, rats on the honey-based diet showed: reduced weight gain and percentage of body fat, decreased anxiety, better spatial recognition memory, improved HDL cholesterol (15-20% higher than rats fed sugar or sucrose diets), improved blood sugar levels (HA1c), and reduced oxidative damage.

Honey for immunity

Honey boosts immunity. A research conducted in Israel found honey to be effective in decreasing the incidence of acute febrile neutropenia (when high fever reduces white blood cell count) in 64% of patients. Honey also reduced the need for Colony Stimulating Factor (a compound produced in the cells lining the blood vessels that stimulate bone marrow to produce more white blood cells) in 60% of patients with acute febrile neutropenia; increased neutrophil count (another type of white blood cell), decreased thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), and stabilized haemoglobin levels at >11 gm/dl. 32% of the cancer patients involved in the above immunity research reported improved quality of life.

BREAKER: Never give honey to a child younger than age 1 to avoid the risk of infant botulism

Honey improves athletic performance

Honey is primarily used as an energy source. But recent research has examined the use of honey as an ergogenic aid. This type of food and ingredient helps in an athlete's performance and also serves as a healing agent. During the ancient times, specifically in the Olympics, athletes were believed to eat special foods like honey and figs to enhance their sports performance. In a recent study, this belief was acknowledged when a group of researchers involved a group of 39 weight-trained athletes, both male and female. The subjects underwent intensive weight-lifting workout and then immediately consumed a protein supplement blended with either sugar, maltodextrin or honey as the carbohydrate source. The group that consumed honey maintained optimal blood sugar levels throughout the two hours following the workout. In addition, muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration (carbohydrates stored in muscle) was favorable in those individuals consuming the honey-protein. Honey is another source of carbohydrates that can help athletes perform at their best, rather than a superior choice over any other carbohydrate.

Honey as a wound healing property

This is by far, the most the most promising medicinal quality of honey. According to www.whfoods.com, honey has been used topically as an antiseptic and therapeutic agent for the treatment of ulcers, burns and wounds for centuries. A study examined the wound healing benefits of honey when applied topically to patients following Caesarean section and hysterectomy. The honey treated group was infection free in a few days, healed more cleanly and had reduced hospital stay compared to the group receiving the standard solution of iodine and alcohol.

BREAKER: Honey contains glucose and fructose that serve as an antiseptic and therapeutic agent for ulcers, burns and wounds.

What is inside honey that makes it a wound healing antiseptic? Honey is composed mainly of glucose and fructose. These two sugars strongly attract water, honey absorbs water in the wound, drying it out so that the growth of bacteria and fungi is inhibited. Secondly, raw honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase when combined with water, produces hydrogen peroxide, a mild antiseptic.

Honey also contains antioxidants and flavonoids that may function as antibacterial agents. One antioxidant unique in honey called pinocembrin is currently being studied for its antibacterial properties. According to a recent lab study, unpasteurized honey had antibacterial action against Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacteria found readily in our environment that can cause infections, especially in open wounds. In other reports, honey is indicated as effective at inhibiting Escherichia coli and Candida albicans. While darker honeys such as buckwheat flowers, sage and tupelo, contain a greater amount of antioxidants.

BREAKER: Enjoy a little honey in your morning coffee, lunchtime yogurt or afternoon cup of green tea. A daily spoonful of honey may help your need for medicine go down.

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According to website online.prevention.com, honey contains 3 powerful wound-healing components:

Sugar - absorbs moisture so that bacteria will not survive

Hydrogen peroxide - disinfectant

Propolis - a nectar-based compound that kills bacteria

As an added bonus: Honey dries to form a natural bandage. Raw honey serves as an anti-bacterial and antimicrobial agent, anti-viral, anti-fungal and antioxidant.

Honey keeps free radicals at bay

According to biochemist Heidrun Gross and colleagues from the University of California Daily: consumption of honey raises blood levels of protective antioxidant compounds in humans. In a study, 25 participants were each given about 4 tablespoons of buckwheat honey daily for 29 days in addition to their regular diets, and drew blood samples at given intervals following honey consumption. There was a direct link found between the subjects' honey consumption and the level of polyphenolic antioxidants in their blood.

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Whereas, the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture by Perez RA A states that honeydew honey has even higher levels of antioxidants than honey bees make from nectar. While according to Rosa Anna Perez, a researcher with the Instituto Madrileno de Investigacion y Desarrollo Rural, Agrario y Alimentario in Madrid, honeydew honey provides higher levels of antioxidants.

Honey for high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes

The website www.whfoods.com states that honey has been proven to be the healthiest sweetener in a series of experiments conducted on subjects with high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Among healthy subjects, natural honey reduced total cholesterol by 7% and blood sugar by 6%, while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol by 2%. Lastly, for patients with type 2 diabetes, natural honey caused a significantly lower rise in blood sugar compared to dextrose or sucrose (refined sugars).

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The website further adds that experimental evidence indicates that consumption of honey may improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity compared to other sweeteners. The body's tolerance to honey is significantly better than to sucrose or glucose alone. Individuals with greater glucose intolerance (e.g., those with mild diabetes and Type 1 diabetes) showed significantly better tolerance to honey than sucrose.

BREAKER: Honey is a good source of vitamin B2, vitamin B6, iron and manganese.

How to Select and Store Honey

Honey sold in individual containers or in bulk is usually pasteurized, although oftentimes at farmer's markets you can find raw honey.

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Look for raw honey that has not been pasteurized, clarified, or filtered - provided it is of the highest organic quality - this is your best choice.

Look for honey that states "100% pure."

Remember that the darker the color, the deeper the flavor.

BREAKER: Remember that the darker the color of honey, the deeper the flavor. Honeys kept at colder temperatures tend to thicken, while honey kept at higher temperatures tend to darken and have an altered flavor.

Make sure to keep honey stored in an airtight container so that it doesn't absorb moisture from the air. Honey stored this way in a cool dry place will keep almost indefinitely. One reason for this is that its high sugar content and acidic pH help to inhibit microorganism growth. Honey that is kept at colder temperatures tends to thicken, while honey that is kept at higher temperatures has a tendency to darken and have an altered flavor.

Cooking with Honey

If your honey has crystallized, placing the container in hot water for 15 minutes will help return it to its liquid state. Do not heat honey in the microwave as this alters its taste by increasing its hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) content. To prevent honey from sticking to measuring cups and spoons, use honey that is in its liquid form.

{Suggested images: container placed on hot water in cooking pot}

Honey makes a good replacement for sugar in most recipes. Since honey is sweeter than sugar, you need to use less, one-half to three-quarters of a cup for each cup of sugar. For each cup of sugar replaced, you should also reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by one-quarter of a cup. In addition, reduce the cooking temperature by 25°F since honey causes foods to brown more easily.

BREAKER: Since honey is sweeter than sugar, moderation is key.

Precautions about Honey

Remember that the quality of honey is a function of the plants and environment. Other substances found in the environment that includes traces of heavy metals, pesticides, and antibiotics have shown to appear in honey. The amount varies greatly.

For infants under one year of age, do not feed honey-containing products or use honey as a flavoring; This is because honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores and toxins that can cause infant botulism, a life-threatening paralytic disease. Honey is safe for children older than 12 months and adults.