There have been a lot of discussions online about the differences between raw honey and pure honey. There is so much ambiguity in the terminology used on product labels that it is difficult to understand.
Users are manipulated by product marketing to attract them with information that benefits the companies promoting the products rather than the user. Hence, we see labels such as “NATURAL HONEY.” Of course, it’s natural. What else could it be?
Although artificial honey is also available, it’s not commonly available on grocery shelves.
Honey can be divided into four broad categories:
- Pure Honey
- Raw Honey
- Organic Honey
- Unfiltered Honey
The main differences are in the processing stages and the procedures that must be followed for each type.
The Pure Honey or Natural Honey label indicates that the honey is made up of 100% honey with no additional ingredients. (Tip: corn syrup is sometimes added to industrially produced honey to reduce costs). However, the terms “pure” and “natural” don’t reveal much about how the honey was harvested or processed. Honey might have been extracted and filtered using pasteurization, which implies heating at high temperatures, destroying enzymes, and increasing the level of toxins. Hives may have been made of non-organic materials, been infested with pests, mice, and spiders, and been cleaned with non-organic materials. As a result, it’s always a good idea to get more information about the honey you’re buying to make sure it was made in a bee-friendly and environmentally friendly manner.
In addition to being pure, raw honey is not heated to the point of pasteurization i.e. 118 F. This ensures that the honey retains all the enzymes, minerals, and vitamins so that you get all the benefits honey has to offer. Responsible beekeepers recognize that their treatment of bees has a significant impact on the honey we consume. Thus, raw honey is a better choice because it is produced responsibly, which is good for both you and the bees.
Organic Honey refers to honey that is produced from the nectar of organically grown plants. Because bees will travel up to two miles to collect nectar, all plants within a two-mile radius must be organically grown. Organic honey should be stored in light brown/amber-colored glass jar. It should not be heated above 95 degrees F / 35 degrees C (if extraction implies heating), the normal temperatures of the beehive. Although determining these measures can be difficult. Certified products are always a good choice to ensure that the apiary takes the necessary precautions. It’s also important to keep in mind that “organic” honey isn’t always raw or minimally processed. The majority of honey in the United States is imported from South American countries like Brazil or other countries, and it is heavily filtered and processed. Thus, look for the words “raw” and “organic” on the product label.
Filtering is not the same as straining. Filtering removes even the tiniest particles from honey, such as pollen, which can be beneficial to us. Straining simply removes chunks of wax, dead bees, wings, legs, and other debris that would otherwise be removed before jarring the honey in bottles, leaving pollen and all of the beneficial properties intact. To make the filtering process easier, honey is frequently heated to become more liquid, meaning that the honey is no longer raw. Unfiltered honey is not always raw unless it is labeled as so, although it will be closer to its natural condition than honey that has been filtered. Choosing raw, unfiltered honey ensures that the most beneficial qualities are retained.
Benefits of Raw & Unfiltered Honey
Raw honey is high in nutrients and minerals, as well as antioxidants. It also aids in the digestive process and is known to relieve stomach ulcers. Honey contains probiotics, which nourish the good bacteria in our intestines, which are essential for overall health. It’s also used to treat coughs and sore throats.
Manuka honey, for example, has been used to treat wounds. However, the grade of the honey should be checked, and a physician should be consulted before using it.
Understanding the meaning of these terms can assist you in selecting the best honey for you and the environment. Unfortunately, because honey labeling is not regulated, it might be impossible to tell for sure based on statements on labels alone. The easiest way to ensure you receive precisely what you want is to look for small honey producers that are open about their production practices. Try visiting your local farmers’ market, natural foods stores, or supermarket stores that sell a wide selection of honey.