Living in the San Francisco Area certainly has its perks for foodies – particularly at this time of the year. Farmers markets are overflowing with $1 avocados, heaping piles of apricots, and gorgeous bundles of colorful rainbow chard. One only has to stroll down the streets of Berkeley to see Meyer lemon trees overflowing with fruit and neat rows of herbs in front yards. But people aren’t the only ones who appreciate this mecca of plant growth…yes, we are talking about bees.
Beyond the chicken coops and the home vegetable gardens, beekeeping is on the upswing. Almost every city has a beekeeper’s association, and the buzzing of bees is no longer associated with stings, but instead sweet combs of honey in one’s own backyard.
There are many Bay Area companies utilizing our local beehives and the diversity within each region. Bees prefer sampling flowers close to home, though can occasionally travel up to 3 miles from their hive. Because of this, each hive’s honey will taste very much like the specific sampling of flowers within their geolocation. You can even find honey specific to Alameda, the East Bay, Marin, Sonoma, San Francisco, or Mt Tam. If you come across any of these local brand’s stand at a farmer’s market you can taste each one – and yes, there is a difference!
Some local brands prefer to break down their honey into even smaller geographic locations. Did you know that most neighborhoods in San Francisco have a community garden – and that within that garden there is often a beehive? With these resources you can find honey native to Cole Valley, Potrero Hill, Noe Valley, the Mission (hint: this beehive is on the top of Bi-Rite), and the Inner Sunset. If you live in one of those neighborhoods and are suffering from seasonal allergies, it might be worth a try consuming one of your (very local) honeys.
So why buy local honey, instead of the generic brands that are normally at your grocery store? You might be surprised if you read the labels. Many big name honey companies source their honey from places as far away as Thailand and Vietnam – which means that honey travels a long way, and has big carbon footprint.
Local honey can also help to combat seasonal allergies. When plants start pollinating in the spring many of our bodies release histamines – a natural immune system function that helps to counteract the pollen. Unfortunately histamines cause us to sneeze, get congested, and experience other unpleasant allergy-related symptoms. Local honey contains the pollen that irritates us in our day to day life, causing those histamines to be released. Some studies prove that by consuming local honeys, bodies can create antibodies to the pollen we’re allergic to – effectively curing our seasonal allergies!
What’s your favorite way to consume honey? We’re fans of it spread on locally baked bread, stirred into our tea, or even eaten plain off a spoon. Join the local honey revolution!