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Raw Honey vs. Organic Honey

The beekeepers at the Waterford Bee Co. get asked a lot of questions. One of the top questions we are asked is if our honey is Raw or Organic. Raw honey. Organic honey. Pure honey. Active honey. Manuka honey... all these labels are confusing to most people.

Are they the same thing? Or different? Is raw honey and organic honey the same thing?

What is Raw Honey?

Raw honey is honey that has not been pasteurized (heat treated) above 113F and has not had its pollen filtered out. We do filter honey to get lar bits of wax, plant parts and the occasional bee part out of the honey. The sugar in the honey frequently crystallizes quickly due to its high pollen content and structure of the sugars in the honey.

Grocery stores typically do not sell raw honey do not sell raw honey because it can crystallize quickly. And when honey begins to crystallize, unaware consumers stop buying it because they think it has had sugar added to it.

What Is Organic Honey?

Organic honey is honey that is free of chemicals and antibiotics. Organic honey has been independently certified to come from a bee hive that is 5 to 8 miles away from the nearest artificial chemical source, i.e. roads, farms, factories, houses, etc.

It is illegal to sell or market a honey as "organic" if it has not been certified by a government approved organic control body.

As you can imagine, producing organic honey is very difficult, especially in areas of the US were there are large urban and rural populations, mono-culture farms, factories, etc. The federal government offers more guidelines on organic certification here. Also, keep in mind the bees go wherever they want to forage for pollen, nectar and other resources often up to 3 miles from their hive. Bees are not domestic livestock. They are amazing insects that have agreed to live in nice wooden boxes because of the low rent and good neighborhoods.

Is Raw Honey And Organic Honey The Same Thing?

No. Raw means not pasteurized or filtered. Organic means certified free of chemicals.

So honey can be raw and organic, raw but not organic and organic but not raw. They are two different things.

What Is Pure Honey?

Pure honey is simply honey to which no ingredient has been added. "Pure honey" does not mean it is raw or organic. For example, "honey with ginger" or "honey with black seed" is not "pure honey" because an ingredient has been added to the honey. Pure honey may come from bees fed sugar solution and it may be pasteurized, filtered and contain chemicals and antibiotics. Pure honey does not mean the honey is raw or organic.

What Is Active Honey?

Active honey is honey that has been independently certified by a food testing laboratory to have antibacterial "activity." It is normally expressed as a number on the label, e.g. 5+, 10+, 15+, etc. All honeys possess some antibacterial activity, but only honeys with an activity rating of at least 10+ are considered to be beneficial to humans. Medical Honey is a type of Active honey with ratings so high that you cannot typically purchase it commercially. Medical honey has ratings over 1000+ and is used for burns, road-rash, and post-surgery to prevent bacterial infection.

Manuka is the most common honey marketed with an activity rating.

So... What Is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is a type of honey that comes from bees feeding on the manuka bush in New Zealand. It is good honey but many people believe it is overpriced and over-exaggerated. There is a lot of fake manuka honey on the market. For example, the annual global production of manuka honey is 1700 tons per year. Yet over 50,000 tons of manuka honey is sold globally every year. In Britain alone, 5000 tons of manuka honey is sold every year. #themoreyouknow

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