09/13/2012 05:33 EDT | Updated 11/13/2012 05:12 EST

You Won't Bee-lieve What Honey Can do For You!

WikiMedia: Discott

For a true burst of flavour, pick up a jar of local raw honey gathered from local bee hives. Because bees don't travel very far from the hive, the honey tastes like everything that blooms in the area, rather than a single distinctive note. Depending on the season and the area, the honey can have very different flavours.

Why Raw Honey?

Most grocery store honey is "pasteurized" (a nice word for "heated") to protect us from bacteria; however, the heat from this pasteurization process kills all the enzymes that are great for our bodies. It is said that store-bought pasteurized honey is no better for you than white sugar.

Raw honey, on the other hand, is honey fresh from the comb. It's not heated excessively and therefore is brimming with nutrients and enzymes. It's these enzymes which make raw honey so digestible to humans.

The following benefits apply to raw honey:

  • Anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal
  • Treats coughs and upper respiratory infections
  • High in antioxidants
  • Helps digestion (due to all those good enzymes!)
  • Boosts immunity

Buying Raw Honey: What to Look For

Start becoming a label reader and learn what's in your honey! Next time your at the grocery store, you may be surprised to see that the honey in your usual container is not even real honey at all. The somewhat cloudy look to your honey is a sign that it still contains bee propolis, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and whatever else raw honey contains that we haven't figured out yet!

I always try to buy local honey. Many of the largest honey producers will blend honeys from a variety of countries together, leaving me wondering what's in my honey and how it was produced. I know that I can trust 100 per cent pure Canadian honey, made by smaller independent honey makers in my area.

Bill Thurlow from Ottawa's Heavenly Honey is a honey authority, having manned hives for over 20 years. Local honey like Bill's has been a staple in my pantry this summer, often tossed with olive oil, slices of fresh peaches, thyme, feta cheese and red onion for a seasonal summer salad. Hurry and pick up a jar of local wild honey at your local health food store or farmer's market - wild bees don't produce much honey in the winter!