Monday, June 04, 2007

Honey, Honey

One of my favorite local ingredients to cook with is honey. It has great versatility for everything from salad dressing to ice cream, vegetable dishes to just plain on bread. Unlike most sweeteners, honey contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Honey is known to have antimicrobial properties and some people believe that consumption of local honey can help with allergies.

Along with its good properties, honey can also contain dormant botulism bacteria endospores, which can be hazardous if fed to an infant. The endospores can become active in an infant’s immature intestinal tract and lead to illness. For this reason, honey should not be fed to infants.

It also has addictive qualities, I believe, judging from my little one’s response to it. And my own. But this love is tinged bittersweet these days, with worry about the bees. Colony Collapse Disorder has claimed nearly 25 percent of the nation’s bee population. At this point, the cause is still much of a mystery, although two of the most likely theories involve a pesticide ingredient called imidicloprid and the pollen from genetically modified (GM) plant species. The pesticide has been shown in some studies to cause a disorienting behavior in bees.

The GM theory is a bit more complicated. Basically, the ingestion of the bees of the GM pollens may lead to a weakened immune system, leaving the bee susceptible to parasites that would normally not be a problem — the bees are malnourished. At least one university study has shown that bee populations do not thrive as well in GM crop environments.

Colony Collapse Disorder is definitely an issue worth watching. Even if you don’t like honey. Bees are responsible for the pollination of over 90 U.S. fruits and vegetables including apples, pears, peaches and other tree fruits like citrus, berries, soybeans, sunflowers, cucumbers and melons, legumes, canola, cotton, grapes, squash, peppers and tomatoes. Worldwide bees help pollinate over 300 different fruit and vegetable plants. Thus, the loss of bees would be a great loss for us all. Here’s to the hope that researchers find the answer before it is too late.

A Spoonful of Honey Makes the Vegetables Go Down

Okay, so I don’t need honey to eat my vegetables, but it sure does make some of them taste great, even cauliflower. Cauliflower is not a personal favorite, but prepared this way, I’d eat it once a week. The salads below? I would eat these two recipes every day. Too bad fresh figs are only around for a limited time.

Honey-Spice Roasted Cauliflower
Looking for these recipes? They will be included in my upcoming book co-authored with Ali of Cleaner Plate Club!

Arugula Salad with Bleu Cheese Crostini, Roasted Pears and Grapes and Honey-Wine Syrup

Balsamic-Honey Roasted Fig Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula


Matt said...

I thought that article was interesting as well and considered writing on the topic. The theory however was not backed up with a strong argument, although I wouldn't mind Monsanto taking the blame for once. In any case, it's flat out sad that we have the power to mess up such an important species.

I just found your blog and so far I like what I see.

Lis said...

Okay, I lied in my e-mail to you.. I'm partial to ANY ONE OF THESE SALADS. It took a 1/2 of my first cup of coffee to register the amazing ingredients in all of these salads.. ohhh man - truly, I can't thank you enough for submitting them! They all sound amazing. =)


The Expatriate Chef said...

Thanks, Matt! It's a hard subject to cover in depth right now since they just don't know what the cause is. I hope they figure it out soon. Glad you found the blog!