Honey, honey, honey. If you think you don’t like honey, then you must be mistaken. It is not just a sticky food item like most people believe….it actually has purposes for anything from food to furniture varnish, and from beauty products to fermentables (honey mead). Honey has been around further than we are able to determine as we know it has been used for thousands upon thousands of years for a multitude of reasons, but the first fossilized honey bees are about 150 million years old! Bees were often found in Egyptian hieroglyphs as they were symbolized as royalty. The earliest record of beekeeping is dated at 2400BC near Cairo! In mythology, the bee was the symbol of the Greek goddess Artemis, and it is said that Cupid dipped his arrows in honey before aiming them at lovers.
Honey began as a sweetener, and was used in baking, specifically honey cakes, which were used as an offering to the gods. The ancient Egyptians also used honey as part of their embalming method. It is said that Cleopatra often took luxurious milk and honey baths, which is what kept her skin so beautiful and healthy. Later, the Greeks took it one step further. Not only did they fill recipe books with foods made using honey, they also viewed honey as a healing medicine since honey has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can be used to treat anything from burns to sore throats. It was the Romans who discovered that honey could also soothe digestive issues as well. If you ingest local honey daily from the area you live, you could find that your seasonal allergies could be relieved. Honey is one of the most pure, natural remedies you can find.
Later on, when Christianity became an established religious study, the production of honey and beeswax skyrocketed in order to meet the Church’s demand for candles. Up until the Renaissance, honey was an extremely important ingredient, especially as a sweetener. However, in the 15th century, sugar became widely popular and eventually replaced honey as the main sweetener.
Today, honey is produced in many countries all over the world, and it comes in various flavors and grades, with over 300 varieties found in the United States alone. The top five honey producing countries are China, Turkey, Argentina, Ukraine, and the U.S. It is not surprising to see how much honey is produced per year, because it is simply one of the best things you could use. So go ahead and take a honey bath, soothe your sore throat, or moisturize your skin. You’ll love it, I promise!
Article Credits: UN Food & Agriculture Organization; honeyassociation.com; storyofhoney.com