I spoke to the Green Business Roundtable on April 13 about food labeling. The take-home message of my illustrated talk was: If you have personal values involving the food chain, the best way of making purchasing choices is to get to know the producers and learn from them.
Among the many foods I mentioned is local honey. I showed a picture of bee boxes in my neighborhood, recently returned from California, where the bees pollinate almond groves in the winter. I opened the question of whether the honey harvested from these hives has the traces of local pollen that some allergy sufferers seek in local honey. I concluded by advising people to talk to their honey supplier.
The Herald ran a story (Good Earth, April 21) leaving the question open in many readers minds, so I have taken the opportunity to visit with Danny Culhane and Gary Milligan. They each are members of multigenerational La Plata County beekeeping and honey-processing families. I learned that the itinerant hives are essential to the expanding California almond production, itself a valued nutritional crop. The boxes that return here are filled with a new generation of recently hatched workers (the Beach Boys sang I Wish They All Could Bee California Girls). Before the dandelions here bloom, the hungry new brood has used up any honey that may have been collected in the almond groves. Later, as the bees make Colorado honey, it is collected in boxes stacked on top of the brood boxes. So the local honey may be gathered by a bee born in California, but it is in a comb, in a frame, in a box, that stays in Colorado.
Aside from being hardworking, endlessly fascinating creators of honey, commercial bees are essential to the production of many other foods from our gardens, orchards and fields.
Jerry Zink, Durango