The Rest of the Local Story
Think Global, Act Local. OK, it's dated but still good,
really good. For example, most people are now aware of
the benefits of eating locally produced foods. Local foods likely
to be fresher and therefore more nutritious and healthy. Globally,
the increased consumption of local foods means less transportation
and that translates to improved global carbon footprint. That
being said, we can take the sustainable consumption a step further.
Locavores can not only eat local, but they can also drink local.
enjoying a beverage that is produced locally with a very small
carbon footprint and made from a raw material that is produced
by 100% sustainable agriculture. I am speaking of mead, or honey
wine, which can be made from three simple ingredients: honey,
water and yeast. The honey bee should be the poster child for
sustainable agriculture because it produces a perfect food that
never spoils and it does so without using a plow, pesticides,
fertilizer or irrigation. The honey bee has set a standard for
sustainable agriculture that is not likely to ever be surpassed.
As most are aware, the honey bee is currently under enormous
stress. Pollution, parasites, stresses resulting from commercial
pollination methods, poor nutrition and a limited gene pool
are all contributing to the largest global bee die off in modern
times. One could argue that the honey bee as a feral species
has already gone extinct. It is only the efforts of beekeepers
and their managed colonies that bees are still alive in America.
Bee losses have brought many commercial beekeepers to their
financial knees. We now have less than 600 commercial beekeepers
in America that produce 75% of all the honey produced in America.
Just a few short years ago we had over 3000 viable commercial
beekeepers. This is an alarming statistic. One third of everything
we eat depends upon the pollination efforts of the honey bee.
Although Americans eat only an average of 1.25 pounds of honey
per year (contrasted by 50 to 150 pounds of sugar) most would
certainly be amiss if their food selection was suddenly reduced
Can the average person help? The answer is yes. Everyone can
make an effort to eat a little more pure, local, raw honey.
This will increase demand and help the bottom line of the struggling
beekeepers. For those who enjoy an alcohol libation now and
again, consider this: By consuming just 2 bottles of honey wine
per year, you will be almost doubling your annual consumption
of honey because one pound of honey produces about 2 bottles
of honey wine. The ripple effect of the growing mead or honey
wine industry is astounding. More honey consumption, better
bottom line for beekeepers, more bees, better pollination, and
finally a more stable, sustainable selection of foods for our
dinner tables. Honey wine is the only mechanism by which we
as a country can significantly increase consumption of domestically
produced honey and therefore secure the future of the very backbone
of our agricultural industry in America. This is no hyperbole,
this is simple math.
And so we have arrived at a point where an alcohol beverage
that is some 38,000 years old can play a major role in securing
our future food supply. I am an optimist. I believe the honey
bee will survive. I believe that honey wine, one of the fastest
growing segments of the domestic wine industry, will be a vital
player in the survival of the honey bee. I believe that honey
wine IS the libation of the new millennium. It is the rest of
the story of being a locavore. Help the honeybee --- eat and
drink more honey products.
Medovina Meadmaster and Beekeeper
P.S. There is more. Honey wine can significantly decrease the
carbon footprint of the domestic beverage wine industry and
its consumption but that is a story for another occasion.