Do you prefer to buy organic whenever possible? So do we! And you love honey? So do we!! Congratulations, we are now best friends and we are going to let you in on a honey info that isn’t too well known!
The question often comes up when we talk to customers about organic honey – Is our honey organic, where can they find organic honey, what does organic mean when it comes to honey, etc.
Well let’s talk first about organic honey in the U.S. Currently, the USDA does not have an organic standard specific to honey. So does this mean that there is no organic honey produced in the U.S.? Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer. An apiary (bee farm) can still be certified as organic if it meets the USDA rules for organic livestock. There are a few honey producers that have been certified but not many. Probably the biggest reason why is that bees can forage up to a 3 mile radius from their hives. This means the can cover roughly 28 square miles. A beekeeper would have to be sure that their bees do not encounter anything that has been sprayed with pesticide, fungicide or synthetic fertilizer or is genetically modified within 28 square miles of where they place their bees. An almost impossible task in most areas of the U.S. In addition, a majority of commercial beehives (up to 90%) are sent to pollinate almonds every year. A large percentage of almonds are not grown organically so those hives are not eligible. And last but not least, anything used in the hive such a treatments for mites must be organic. All of those put together explains why it is very difficult, if not impossible to find organic honey produced in this country. The USDA has been “working” on new standards specific to honey for a number of years, but I wouldn’t plan on seeing them any time soon.
Well I have seen honey that is labeled organic?
There are two explanations:
1) According to the USDA food producers selling less the $5000 a year can label their products organic if they meet the general USDA guidelines. They no not require a certification though they can be fined if they are found to not meet the guidelines. So if you are buying at a market or store and the honey is local and organic this is probably the case.
2) The honey was not produced in the U.S.! If you see organic honey in the store, it was most likely produced in Brazil, Mexico or Canada. This is because the USDA recognizes organic certifications from other countries. So if an apiary in Brazil gets certified to organic standards (most often they use the European Union standards) it can be labeled as organic in the U.S.
Hopefully that answers any questions you have about organic honey! If not, reach out to us and we’d be happy to help. If it critical to you to have organically certified honey, then it can be had, it just won’t be produced in the U.S.
My recommendation – find a source for raw, unfiltered honey that you trust and buy from them. Here is a link to our Bluegrass Wildflower Honey.
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