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Are you looking for the best organic honey that is equally delicious as it is healthy? Learn about the benefits of organic honey, the different types and varietials available, and what makes a specific type of honey the “best” in the market.
Have you ever looked at a honey jar in the store and wondered what’s the difference between organic honey and regular honey? You’re not alone!
Organic honey has grown in popularity, but what does this label mean? As someone passionate about eating real food and sourcing the highest quality ethical ingredients, I wanted to do a deep dive on organic honey to understand what it really is and how to find it.
- Does it matter if you buy raw or organic honey?
- How do you certify honey organic?
- Is local honey better than “organic” honey?
- What’s the best type of honey for everyday use?
In this post, I’m breaking down all of those components to help you answer the same questions.
Just as a disclaimer: I’m not a beekeeper. I don’t claim to be an expert on bees. I’m just a local foodie not afraid of doing some research to find the answers. I’m also not a doctor and recommend you conduct your own research on the benefits of honey.
What is Organic Honey?
To understand the benefits of organic honey, it’s important first to understand what it is and why it matters. Organic honey is produced by bees that collect nectar from flowers that have not been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
So why does this matter?
Conventional honey often contains small amounts of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals that get onto the plants as the bees pollinate. These chemicals or contaminants can get into the honey we consume. Some beekeepers use synthetic pest controls on their hives, which are not allowed for certified organic honey.
Since the bees absorb the pesticides and herbicides they encounter, these practices contribute to a decrease in the bee population.
Basically, since bees cannot be limited to one specific area, they can be exposed to anything anyone sprays on their plants. In fact, bees can even be used to look for environmental contaminants and pollution (source).
The Benefits of Organic Honey
Organic honey is free of these pesticides, herbicides, industrial contaminants, and pollen from GMO plants.
Since honey is often used for its nutritional and healing benefits, it’s important to use the best quality honey you can afford.
- Raw, unfiltered honey retains its natural nutrients and antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, which are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
- Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe a sore throat, potentially alleviate allergies, and even promote wound healing.
- Manuka honey may even be able to fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a topical treatment (source).
- Raw honey also has a lower glycemic index than processed sugars like corn syrup, making it a healthier alternative for those with blood sugar concerns.
- Organic honey can also improve gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. It can also aid in digestion and relieve digestive issues such as diarrhea and constipation.
Unfortunately, finding the best organic honey isn’t as easy as you’d expect. There are still exceptional products available, but it’s not quite as easy as just Googling “organic honey” and buying the first product on the list. In fact, I’d recommend you don’t do that at all.
Organic honey labeling & certifications
Did you know that the USDA actually does not certify honey as organic? If you do see organic honey, it’s been certified by another country or agency.
Think about it: how could you ever guarantee that none of the bees in a hive ever encountered a single pesticide or GMO crop?
Unfortunately, honey labeling can be extremely confusing. As Fox Hound Bee Company explained, you may see organic honey that says the US is its country of origin, but it actually comes from other countries.
Does organic honey actually exist?
Yes! Although the USDA does not certify honey as organic, it does honor organic certifications from other countries. This means you can buy certified organic honey raised in Canada, New Zealand, or anywhere else.
Even better, you may also see honey certified organic by other agencies, like the OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Agency).
This is a great option as they really dig in to make sure the beekeepers are following the proper hive management methods, that the land the bees are on is fully organic and has been for 3 years, and more.
The Non-GMO Project can also offer labels for honey, and they ensure that the hives are grown away from genetically modified crops. There are some great brands that are certified by the Non-GMO Project but are not certified organic.
How to Choose and Buy High-Quality Organic Honey
To fully reap the benefits of organic honey, it is essential to choose a high-quality product that meets organic standards. This ensures that the honey you purchase is produced in a way that is environmentally friendly, and that the bees are not exposed to harmful chemicals.
When looking for high-quality honey, it is important to read labels carefully. Look for information about the production process, the source of the honey, and any certifications that the product may have.
Another important factor to consider is the location of the hives. Bees that are raised in areas with a variety of flowering plants and trees produce honey that is rich in nutrients and flavor. Look for honey that is labeled as “single source” or “single origin” to ensure that it comes from a specific geographic location.
Find a company you trust. Even some of the best quality honey brands import honey from abroad. If you only shop from companies that uphold high ethical standards, you’ll do just fine.
I recommend always buying honey raised in your local community or state. Be aware that honey imported to the United States sometimes includes thickeners and additives.
Where to Buy the Best Organic Honey
Some of the best places to shop are:
- Local beekeepers
- Local farmers markets
- Check for regional sources (co-op)
- When not available, look for certified organic raw honey.
Personally, I believe in the power of local honey for helping to heal allergies, and would rather support a local beekeeper than ship in honey from elsewhere.
It’s actually incredibly hard to find certified organic honey locally. Especially since the USDA label is unavailable, it’d be incredibly expensive and challenging for your local beekeeper to apply for all these other labels.
If you can find amazing local honey but it’s not certified organic, it may be worth making an exception unless you have very specific reasons you need to purchase organic exclusively.
I buy raw, unfiltered, local honey that is not certified organic. I get it at my local farmers market from the same seller and the honey is always of the highest quality and flavor.
Where to Buy the Best Organic Honey Online
The brands below offer raw honey products with organic certification. If you’re buying raw honey for the first time, these are some of the best honey brands!
Azure Standard Organic Wildflower Honey
Azure Standard sources its organic honey from Argentina & Brazil from areas away from conventional farming production. Their prices are affordable and you can easily add them to your Azure Standard order.
Labels: USDA Organic
Country of Origin: Brazil & Argentina
Wholesome Fair Trade Organic Raw Honey
This honey is the best of everything: organic, raw, Fair Trade certified, and affordable! This package includes 2 one-pound bottles to ensure you have enough for every cup of tea or batch of granola.
Labels: USDA Organic; Fair Trade Certified
Country of Origin: Mexico & Brazil
Wedderspoon Organic Raw Manuka Honey
Although the price might give you sticker shock, this manuka honey comes all the way from New Zealand’s South Island. Its contains only honey from the manuka bush and is free from glyphotsate.
Labels: USDA Organic; Fair Trade Certified
Country of Origin: New Zealand
Raw vs Organic Honey
There is often overlap between the terms “raw” and “organic” in honey labeling. But there is a distinct difference between the two.
Raw honey is honey straight from the hive. It has not been pasteurized (heat treated), and does not have the pollen filtered out.
The pasteurization process is done to kill yeast cells in the honey, increase its shelf life, and make the final product clear. Raw honey that hasn’t be pasteurized is still safe to eat, but it may have a cloudy, opaque appearance.
Those who enjoy honey for its health benefits usually prefer raw honey. Unfiltered honey in raw form has several benefits like additional antioxidants from the bee pollen.
Organic raw honey can be tricky to find, as most honey in stores is pasteurized. If you’re looking for the highest quality raw, unpasteurized honey, I recommend shopping at a farmer’s market.
Different Varietals of Organic Honey
Have you ever wondered why some honey tastes like wildflowers, while others have a distinct nutty flavor? The answer lies in the varietals of organic honey, each with their own unique characteristics.
Some of the most popular varietals of organic honey include wildflower, clover, acacia, and buckwheat. Varietals like clover are distinctly sweet, whereas buckwheat honey tends to be have a more robust flavor.
If you like to bake with honey like I do, it can be handy to know about the different varietals and their flavor profiles.
As the name suggests, wildflower honey is made from nectar gathered from a variety of wildflowers. This type of honey is unique in that the taste can vary depending on the season and the location where the bees gather their nectar.
Wildflower honey is known for its floral aroma and delicate sweetness, making it a popular choice for tea and baked goods.
One of the benefits of wildflower honey is its wide availability. Since it’s made from a variety of flowers, it can be found in most regions. This also means that it’s typically more affordable than other varietals of organic honey.
Keep in mind that because wildflower honey is made from many different types of flowers, it may not be as consistent in flavor as other varietals. However, if you’re looking for a honey with a unique and complex taste, wildflower honey is definitely worth a try.
Where to Buy:
One of the most popular types of honey is clover honey, which is produced by bees that collect nectar from clover flowers. Clover honey is known for its mild, sweet flavor and is often used as a natural sweetener in teas or baked goods. It has a light amber color and a smooth, creamy texture.
Clover honey is also rich in antioxidants and even has antibacterial properties!
Where to Order:
Acacia Honey is a premium and rare natural honey varietal that boasts a light and delicate flavor profile. This makes it a sought-after choice in the world of organic honey.
Acacia honey is sourced from the nectar of the Robinia pseudoacacia flower, also known as the black locust tree, which is native to North America.
One of the unique features of acacia honey is its low glycemic index, making it a great alternative to refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. Additionally, acacia honey has antibacterial properties and is rich in antioxidants.
Buckwheat honey is a dark and intense honey with a variety of health benefits. This honey is high in antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Like acacia honey, buckwheat honey also has antibacterial properties that make it an excellent natural remedy for sore throats and coughs.
What sets buckwheat honey apart from other varietals is its unique taste. Unlike the light and delicate flavor of acacia honey, buckwheat honey has a strong, earthy taste with notes of molasses and a hint of nuttiness.
It’s a popular choice for baking, as its bold flavor pairs well with hearty ingredients like oats and nuts.
When it comes to using buckwheat honey, it’s important to note that it has a lower fructose content than other types of honey. This means it crystallizes more quickly, so it’s best to store it in a warm place or gently heat it in a warm water bath before using.
Other types of honey:
There are so many different kinds of honey out there, and you’ll likely see some of these names pop up! Let’s break down what they mean to simplify your shopping experience.
Tupelo Honey: This rare honey varietal is produced from the flowers of the white Ogeechee tupelo tree, which is native to Florida and Georgia. It’s prized for its intense floral flavor and buttery richness.
Raw manuka honey: This popular honey hails from New Zealand and is made with the nectar of the manuka bush. Manuka honey contains the active ingredient methylglyoxal, which has antibacterial properties. Because of this, Manuka honey is often used to heal sore throats and soothe wounds!
Linden honey: Linden honey is a monofloral honey produced from trees in the genus Tilia. It is a light colored honey with a sweet and spicy flavor profile.
Creamed honey: Creamed honey is made by whipping regular liquid honey in a blender until it’s thick and creamy. It’s a great way to use up crystallized raw honey and you can easily doctor it with spices and herbs for a delicious treat.
Flavored honey: Although honey varietals change flavor depending on the nectar of flowers, flavored honey actually has flavor added to regular pure honey.
You’ll enjoy these infused honey recipes:
Find the best organic honey for your family
Organic honey is a delicious, healthful alternative to other processed sugars and sweeteners. It is produced in a way that preserves the natural flavor and benefits of honey.
With its plethora of subtle varietals, you can find the perfect organic honey that meets your flavor and nutritional needs.
Now that you know all about organic honey, why not give it a try? Look for organic honey at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, or order some online.
What’s your experience with organic honey? Do you have a favorite honey recipe? Leave us a comment below!