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May 12, 2010

Food Maker seeks local honey

Local honeyThere's an interesting Google group out there called Baltimore Food Makers where the discussion is mostly about ambitious home-cooking projects.

There was a guy on there a while back explaining how he made duck breast prosciutto. During the blizzards, when someone asked, "What's everybody cooking?," one member replied that he had Vietnamese pork chops marinating, French bread rising and some sort of celery salad waiting in the fridge.

These are people who make their own crackers -- even grow their own luffa sponges.

A topic that came up yesterday was a little more pedestrian, but one that I think Dining@Large readers might have an interest in. It concerns local honey.

"i loooooove the honey i buy for us, but it's $15/qt -- and i tend to buy 4 qts/time," Food Maker writes. "this is locally produced really really good honey, but i'm facing some let's just call them sudden unexpected financial challenges and am looking for alternate sources. ... or, i dunno, maybe $15/qt is just what local honey costs? anyway, i'm wondering what everyone else does for honey, if you buy locally then where/from whom, and what yours costs."

Frankly, I'm surprised there's a Food Maker out there who doesn't keep her own bees. Slacker!

Does anybody know if there's less expensive local honey to be had?

 

Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:23 AM | | Comments (23)
        

Comments

$15 a quart? I buy local honey from a lady I work with for like $5 a quart. I think she just does it for friends and stuff though.

I don't have to reiterate all the factors that have driven honey prices sky high--the beekeepers and various honey/meadmaking websites/forums will be happy to tell you all about that. Suffice it to say that my sources are now charging FOUR TIMES what they were charging for bulk honey 15 years ago.

www.beefolks.com out of Mt. Airy is charging $12/quart in lots of five gallons, plus shipping, for both local and bulk import honey.

Who's the local honey?

Greg,
Ask howie. He knows.

Very good, PCB Rob!

It's supply divided by demand and initial investment. Proper bee equipment and processing isn't cheap in materials or labor. I'd rather pay the money then risk botulism. It's quite rare, but it does happen; and raw unpasteurized honey (like i prefer) is usually the culprit.

Good call on grown your own honey. We could start calling Baltimore "The City That Bees"

Beats "Find Your Happy Place." LV

Check out www.gobelocal.com to find local honey - they have a lot of listings.

Interesting comment about foodies that should grow their own. Our hive arrived this spring. It's wonderful.

I don't know what you consider local but I buy raw honey at Whole Foods called Lord Byron's Apiary Raw Honey and it comes from Thurmont MD near the Catoctin Mountains. It's dark, delicious honey!! I thinkI paid around $6 for 16oz. SO worth it.

Local honey from Whole Foods, I'll give a pass to. Some locals from everywhere have to make it big, it's just the law of averages. Also, when someone with a business plan that is more environmentally friendly gets shelf space with a large chain, it makes it more economically feasible for others to follow suit ( getting business loans, investors, even pursuing the idea in the first place).

I didn't know you could get botulism from raw honey. That's scary...I just bought a quart of the stuff. :-(

Baltimore – Find Your Happy Ending

Also, when someone with a business plan that is more environmentally friendly gets shelf space with a large chain, it makes it more economically feasible for others to follow suit ( getting business loans, investors, even pursuing the idea in the first place).

Hey - it's no small interesting thing about the locovore movement. It's one thing that it is the stuff of fashion -- not to knock places like Woodberry or (god forbid) Chez Panisse, of course. But the real meaty part of the project is that the principles diffuse down into the consciousness of average American consumers making choices in supermarkets across the land.

If and when the arbiters of food fashion move on to something new, the hope is that ideas behind locovorism leave something behind when we make choices to skip the Mexican mangoes in the middle of February.

Ultimately, there are some barriers to it that we might not be able to overcome -- sometimes, I just really crave a mango in February. But already, we see 'expensive' organic produce continue to drop in price as supply increases to match demand. Hopefully, that may already be a sort of bellweather that we're thinking about food fundamentally differently than even only a decade ago.

El G, I'm curious when the local mango season is for Baltimore.

My point is that the strictest sense of locovore principles means giving up those sorts of things.

With the Cheaspeake, that means crab-pickin's out, too.

As with so many things, there's balance and compromise to be had. But there are indications that food distributor networks are responding to more and more consumers paying attention to these sorts of things.

It's one thing for Whole Foods or Wegman's to label the origin of their produce and such; but it's starting to crop up at other retailers in the area, further down the market.

The national average cost of a pound of honey, retail, is $4.93 according to the Honey Report we publish monthly. A quart is right about 3 pounds...for local honey, where you know the beekeeper and can get it when you want, a $15/qt relationship is about average...my thought is, with all the toubles beekeepers are having, be glad you can find it at all...
Kim Flottum
Editor, Bee Culture Magazine.

The national average cost of a pound of honey, retail, is $4.93 according to the Honey Report we publish monthly. A quart is right about 3 pounds...for local honey, where you know the beekeeper and can get it when you want, a $15/qt relationship is about average...my thought is, with all the toubles beekeepers are having, be glad you can find it at all...
Kim Flottum
Editor, Bee Culture Magazine.

Jack Z., am I remembering correctly that you are a grandfather? The botulism spores that may exist in raw honey are especially dangerous for infants and toddlers. All parents of small children should be aware of this.

I get the Lord Byron's honey at Mill Valley, so I don't think I will stop buying it just because Whole Foods stocks it as well.

Botulism is pretty rare, and Dahlink, you are correct in that little ones are most vulnerable. People with impaired immune systems should be wary as well.
Raw honey in and of itself isn't the problem, it's the cleanliness of where it's packaged and how long it sits on the shelf. Botulism is anaerobic, so the longer the jar goes without being opened (converse to conventional wisdom) the worse it could be. Buy local, helps the turnover rate.
Besides, if you're going to the money and trouble to find it in the first place, chances are it won't sit unappreciated for long.
Fun Fact: another way to get botulism: Baked potatoes in foil. Seriously. Occurrence of about the same rate, honey gets more publicity.

I get honey from Brey's Honey, at the Sunday farmers' market. $15/qt sounds about right, but I don't mind paying that because they're the only place I've found that sells the thistle honey I crave.

They've been known to sell by the gallon if you ask ahead of time (1 gal = 4 qts)...as I recall, the gallon was $49. So, a little less than $15/qt, but really, that's just about what it costs.

Thought #1: Weber's Cider Mill Farm in Parkville sells McCutcheon's honey. I don't know how "local" McCutcheon's is, but Weber's has lots of it. Thought #2: Has anyone checked the Amish Market in Hunt Valley?

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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