Why Food Shopping Local and Avoiding Big Box Stores is Good for Your Health and Community’s Economy

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Some family farms have been struggling financially due to the competitive prices of big box stores, but the inexpensive bill might cost you more in other ways.

“The question is, is she getting pure honey? Or is she getting a honey that has been mixed with something cheap like corn syrup,” HoneyRock Farm Owner Bill Hilker said.

Hilker and his family reside in Ithaca and have been in the beekeeping business for roughly 35 years with their bee farm right in their backyard. I had the opportunity to suit up and get a first hand look.

His prices are higher than store shelves for obvious reasons: He’s selling the real thing, and he’s not a corporation.

A pound of his honey costs eight dollars retail.

“We have wholesale pricing as well, and so I was contacted one time by a person who produces a product that they mix honey into because they wanted to be able to say that they use local honey in their product,” Hilker said. “I gave her, what I considered to be, a pretty good price for honey for wholesale, and she could get it for half that.”

A 2011 study by Food Safety News revealed that more than 75 percent of honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t really what bees produce.

Some companies mixed their honey with sugar or as Hilker said, corn syrup, to keep costs down. Pollen wasn’t even found in many of the products.

After years of push back from Congress, the FDA made changes to its labeling requirements in 2014, and according to observertoday.com, New York Senator Chuck Schumer was pleased with the outcome of the new guidelines after fighting for this change for years.

Occasionally consuming honey with synthetic ingredients might not do a great deal of damage to your health, but health experts say the continuous intake of other foods that you regularly eat could, which is why this issue extends beyond the sweetener.

Routinely eating vegetables, chicken, eggs, corn, and so on that have been infused with hormones and pesticides could be destructive to your well-being.

“Local farmers are, most of the time, going to be raising their produce in an environment that’s free of chemical pesticides and preservatives raised in a natural environment,” DaVita Renal Dietitian Cynthia Shedden said. “These products tend to have more of the cancer-fighting antioxidants that the corporate-raised food wouldn’t have.”

She adds that local food means eating seasonally which translates to it having more flavor, tasting better, and traveling less.

Food that’s imported or travels thousands of miles loses many of its nutrients by the time it’s picked to when it reaches your fridge.

Not buying local also runs the risk of consuming GMO’s.

“GMO is a genetically modified organism where the seeds have actually been genetically altered, so you’re getting a product that isn’t comparable in nutrition, and we’re really not sure what the long-term effects on human health are at this point,” Shedden said. “GMO’s are banned in other countries, but we tend to use them here to produce a higher corporate yield of goods.”
 
If you must shop at a corporate store, be on the lookout for the non-GMO labeling.

Additionally, eating local doesn’t only benefit your body, but it contributes to your community’s economy.

“Bee keepers work very hard to produce raw, natural honey, so always support your local bee keeper if you can,” Hilker said.



More information:

Learn more about the study mentioned in this article via the Huffington Post and Food Safety News.

Why is the FDA is requiring food companies and other producers who add sweeteners to honey to alert consumers by labeling their products as a “blend”? Find out here.

Why is eating local and organic foods important for your health? Learn more here:

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