Honey, germs and mud

The winners of the 2012 Eat In awards have just been announced, and Earthshine‘s kale chips have won the Innovation Award. If you haven’t yet tried their two delicious flavours – the milder Cheezy Herb (it’s a vegan cheeze), and the feistier Zesty Chilli, don’t wait! And for those of you who’ve been asking about the shortage of organic kale recently, I’m sure Earthshine are partly responsible. It’s tough being a farmer when for years kale is seen as a poor substitute for spinach, to be planted is a distant corner of the fields, next thing it’s seen as a nutritional wonder in its own right, and then suddenly again people are making chips with it.

I seem to remember my first exposure to the word “germs” being a television ad, and years later they still seem to be the basis for selling personal hygiene products, usually anti-bacterial soaps. With every surface flashing red with danger, an anti-bacterial soap is the only answer. Well, no. Another study published this week looked at the severity of disease in mice living in sterile conditions, compared with those exposed to more germs. Those living in a sterile environment were far more severely affected. Auto-immune diseases are more common in the developed world, and this is believed to be related to overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial products, as well as less playing outside, in the dirt.

Childhood exposure is particularly important, and it was found that this could not be completely made up for as an adult. So children really can claim playing in the mud is both fun and healthy, while us for us adults, it’s mainly just fun.

In the US, it’s been found that most supermarket honey isn’t honey, and I’ve heard some horror stories locally as well. Many varieties contain no pollen at all, and are even mixed with high-fructose corn syrup, or other cheaper sweeteners. To remove the pollen, honeys are ultra-filtered, heated and then forced through tiny holes at high pressure.

Without the pollen, there’s no way to trace the source of the honey. This has been done in part to facilitate dumping Chinese honey in other parts of the world. Chinese honey has notoriously been frequently laden with antibiotics. Ultra-filtering is also done to prevent honey crystallising. Natural honey will always eventually crystalise around the tiny pollen particles – how long it take depends on factors such as how much it was heated, the current temperature, and how finely the honey was filtered. All honey is filtered (otherwise you’ll get bits of bee and bits of wax in the mix), but the degree varies.

Luckily we’re blessed with four varieties, all of them real!

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

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