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Beyond Honey Boo Boo: How to Buy and Use Local Honey

Honey dominated TV ratings last week, with numbers that topped even the Republican National Convention. But it wasn't the sweet nectar causing a buzz all over social media and the news. It was TLC's latest hit and spinoff of Toddlers & Tiaras, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo -- an increasingly popular and controversial reality-TV show dedicated to the beauty-pageant antics and thick accents of a family living in rural McIntyre, Georgia.

In light of Honey Boo Boo's millions of viewers, we decided to add a touch of useful knowledge to this slightly disturbing reality-TV phenomenon. We visited the Yellow Green Farmers Market and spoke to Alexandra Kaufman of Honey Bee-Z-Ness about a greater, more delicious cause: buying and using local honey.

One of the greatest benefits of shopping for local honey at a farmers' market is the chance to sample different varietals. The flavor of each honey depends greatly on where each hive is located. Most supermarkets carry only wildflower honey, because it's a general varietal made from numerous flowers.  

Kaufman, on the other hand, partners with local farmers and places her beehives near different sources. This, in turn, creates distinct honey varietals. She can happily walk you through an extensive tasting of orange blossom, palmetto, mangrove, avocado, eucalyptus, tupelo, and buckwheat. The tastings demonstrate that each varietal boasts different levels of flavor, viscosity, and color. For example, mangrove honey is slightly salty. Buckwheat honey is thick and dark brown, with notes of licorice and chocolate.

Then there are the added health benefits of local honey. Most supermarket honey is heated and pasteurized. Kaufman explains that, during this process, many of the beneficial enzymes and nutrients found in raw honey are killed. These enzymes and nutrients can aid the cure or treatment for a long list of health issues, including the common cold. The specific health benefits vary depending on each honey varietal too. For example, palmetto honey can prevent urinary tract infections.

Using local honey also adds depths of flavors to foods. A dollop of Greek yogurt can benefit greatly from a drizzle of any of these honey varietals, although I enjoy it best with tupelo. Buckwheat honey can be added to marinades or braising liquids for beef. Or add a boost of even more creativity. Try topping crostini with fresh ricotta cheese, slices of peach, basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and avocado honey for an extra dose of sweetness that also adds a burst of flavor.

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Emily Codik

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