by Holladay Allen
Native Foods Cafe Tribe Member
Honey was the precursor to candy… Brazen cavemen and other early folk would stick their hands into a buzzing beehive, pull out a dripping honeycomb, and risk suffering hundreds of bee stings in order to get their sugarfix. Wow! That is out of control. So what exactly is this sweet syrupy elixir that had early humans willing to endure insurmountable amounts of pain? I mean, we all know it comes from bees, right? How do they make this sugary goo with its unique taste and golden amber color scheme? Long process made simple: The bees swallow nectar into their crop, regurgitate it, add enzymes (spit), chew, swallow and repeat many times (https://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm).
Um, excuse me a minute while I get my own gag reflexes in check….
Okay, I’m back, totally grossed out, but back. Don’t get me wrong, I think nature is incredible and amazing, and the fact that bees have evolved to be able to produce their own food through an intense bodily process of digesting and regurgitating a plant product is out of this world! Bees are cool!
The bee uses its straw like tongue to slurp nectar into one of its two stomachs.
That is one long tongue!!!
On a side note, did you know that in many species of birds, the mother will chew and digest the food for its young, then regurgitate it for them to eat? Wait a minute! Is this the next foie gras? Can’t you see the hippest Los Angeles restaurant (aside from Native Foods Café of course) serving bird regurgitation as its top-notch appetizer, with a fancy name of course…. something like Digestif au Poulet. And people will eat it! Why? Because a highly-acclaimed chef is telling them that is “not-to-be-missed.”
I digress… back to honey.
The point I am trying to make is that honey has become a part of the mainstream diet because of clever marketing pushing it as a “natural” sweetener that is good for you.
Here is the National Honey Board’s official description of how honey is made:
How do bees make honey?
Honey is the sweet fluid produced by honey bees from the nectar of flowers. Worker honey bees transform the floral nectar that they gather into honey by adding enzymes to the nectar and reducing the moisture.
Oh how sweet! Those bees just brew up a bunch of honey in their special hives that resemble little factories inside, with access to enzymes and dehumidifying equipment! (I’m being sarcastic… hint, hint… wink, wink) The biggest problem is that we believe the façade, because it makes eating honey, drinking milk, or consuming any other food produced in a questionable manner, easier to digest (pun intended!). Would honey be as popular of a sweetner if people knew what it really was, bee vomit?
Bees work really, really hard to produce enough honey to keep themselves fed during the winter. Bees may travel as far as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey.
The Transporter! Statham ain't got nothin' on this little guy.
The idea for this blog came up because we are frequently asked at Native Foods Café why we don’t serve honey. The long and short of it is that Native Foods Cafe is a vegan restaurant and honey is the byproduct of a card-carrying member of the animal kingdom. The definition of veganism from the Vegan Society is as follows:
Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life. It applies to the practice of living on the products of the plant kingdom to the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives, and encourages the use of alternatives for all commodities derived wholly or in part from animals. https://www.vegsource.com/jo/essays/namegame.htm
Okay, so bees are indeed a part of the Animal Kingdom, and honey is a byproduct, or derivative, of the bee, so honey is in no way vegan. This is a black and white subject my friends. So if you’re eating honey and calling yourself a vegan, no need to fear! Just change that “v” to a “b” and add an “e” and there you go!
Exploitation, unnecessary killing of the bees, and disturbing their natural habitat and pollination methods are all upsetting factors in the whole honey production process. For a lot more info, please check out the following websites: