11 Reasons You Should Only Buy (And Use) Local Honey

Ah, the sweet natural goodness of pure honey. It's hard to beat honey when you're looking for a delicious, all-natural way to sweeten your favorite foods and drinks that may also provide powerful health benefits (via the Mayo Clinic). Nothing else is quite the same — or quite as good. 

There are a lot of great reasons to keep honey in your pantry and to use it on a regular basis. But what kind of honey should you have on your pantry shelves? If you're looking for the best-tasting honey with the most powerful benefits, the answer is local honey. Not mass-marketed, made-on-the-other-side-of-the-world honey that's shipped a long distance to get to your supermarket, but honey made by bees in your region that's packaged and sold locally.

Why's that? What's so great about local honey? We're glad you asked. Discover 11 key reasons why you should only buy (and use) local honey. You'll be so glad you did that we're willing to bet you'll never purchase imported or mass-produced honey ever again. Plus, we'll share a few tips that'll give you ideas on how to find local honey in your very own community. 

1. Local honey is pure honey

When you purchase local honey from a producer you know and trust, there's no question about whether what you are getting is, in fact, pure honey. Local honey is packaged for sale without other substances mixed in. That's not the case with everything in a store that appears to be honey. When shopping in a supermarket, you have to look carefully at product labels to make sure the products that look like honey really are, in fact, honey. You might be lucky enough to find local honey in a grocery store in your area, but chances are that there are other, similar-looking items on the shelf that really aren't honey at all. And even the labels can't always be trusted.

Not everything that resembles honey is actually pure honey. Even if it's in a super-cute package shaped like a bee hive or a bear, that doesn't mean that it's truly 100% honey. Many mass-market honey products — those referred to as honey blends — include refined sugar or even high fructose corn syrup, which means they're really not honey at all. They're just heavily processed sweeteners with a bit of honey stirred in. That's not to mention fake honey, which is labeled as pure but is actually made with other sweeteners. This has historically been a big problem with imported honey, and large honey packers have been punished for knowingly selling adulterated honey. These products don't have the flavor or the other benefits of pure local honey. 

2. Local honey has terroir

Local honey gives new meaning to the phrase "local flavor." How? Honey bees don't travel far from home to gather pollen. They generally make honey using pollen from flowers that grow within a mile or so of their hive. The flowers that the pollen comes from will ultimately impact what the honey tastes like. As a result, the flavor profile of honey is directly impacted by the flora that grows immediately surrounding the hive where it's made.

Each local honey has a flavor that's a bit unique. That unique local taste is referred to as terroir, which means a taste that is specific to a certain area. The term terroir is often used in reference to wine and chocolate, but it is just as applicable to pure honey. So, for example, honey local to the Deep South is going to taste very different from honey local to the Northeast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, or any other region that supports different plant life.

Intrigued? In addition to honey produced in your own area, be sure to check out the local honey whenever you travel. Bring some home for yourself and buy a few jars as region-specific souvenirs to share with friends and family. Since honey keeps indefinitely, you can build a collection of truly unique locally-produced honey to remember your travels by and add a bit of special sweetness to your life until you return to the area again. 

3. Local honey tastes best

If you're looking for the best-tasting honey flavor, there's no substitute for local honey. Doesn't all honey taste the same? Absolutely not. All honey is sweet, but it doesn't all taste the same. Some of the differences in flavor can be attributed to terroir, but that's not the only factor responsible for differences in taste between local honey and widely distributed mass-marketed honey (real or fake). Processing definitely impacts what honey tastes like. Honey is absolutely not all equal by the time it gets to supermarket shelves (or wherever you purchase it). 

If you were to taste honey from every brand for sale in your favorite store, chances are that no two would taste exactly the same. Local honey doesn't undergo industrial processing for mass distribution, so its taste isn't altered as much en route from the hive to consumers. Local honey — especially raw honey (which is never heated or filtered) — has a richer and more complex flavor than processed versions. The flavor of honey can be diminished — or even destroyed –—when it's heated or otherwise heavily processed for widespread distribution. Local, minimally-processed honey retains all of its incredible natural taste. 

4. Raw honey maximizes health benefits

Not only does local honey that isn't subject to industrial processing tastes better, but it's also better for you (via Healthline). Many of the health benefits commonly associated with honey are specific to — or more pronounced in — raw honey. When you source honey locally, you have an opportunity to purchase raw honey, which comes directly from the honeycomb and does not undergo a pasteurization process. This is the best kind of honey to use when your goal is to enjoy maximum health benefits. 

Pasteurization diminishes the antioxidant properties of honey and causes it to use enzymes and other beneficial substances, leading to a reduction in its health benefits. Raw honey is the least processed honey, so it is believed to have the most antioxidants, per the Cleveland Clinic. Raw honey also has both pollen and bee propolis, both of which may have positive health effects, according to Medical News Today. These substances aren't likely to be present in heavily processed honey or honey-like blends. The more processed honey is, the less of a positive impact it is likely to have on health, whether consumed or applied to the skin. 

5. Local honey may provide allergy relief

Will consuming local honey cure your allergies? No. Honey isn't a cure for allergies. But, according to some natural and holistic medical providers and a review in Frontiers in Pharmacology, local honey may help relieve allergy symptoms in some people. One theory about why honey works is that it's a function of what the person is allergic to and whether the bees who made the honey have fed on local pollen from the plants that trigger the individual's allergies (via Carolinas Natural Health Center). 

What's the bottom line? If you regularly consume honey that contains one or more of the very things that cause you to sniffle and sneeze, it just might help relieve associated symptoms over the long term. That's why it's so important to use only local honey if you're hoping for relief from seasonal allergies triggered by pollen. Honey from outside of where you live isn't likely to contain pollen from whatever plants trigger your allergy symptoms. 

When it comes to allergy symptoms, local honey is nothing to sneeze at, at least for those who suffer from seasonal allergies. Go ahead and stir some into your daily cup of tea. If you have allergic rhinitis triggered by pollen-producing plants in your hometown, you just might find that regular consumption of local honey may play a role in helping to reduce your symptoms (via Annals of Saudi Medicine). Honey should not be viewed as a replacement for an overall allergy treatment plan coordinated by your medical provider. 

6. Buying local can help reduce pollution

Want to help the environment? Buying locally produced honey and other consumables is a great way to reduce pollution associated with processing and transporting non-local goods. Going local actually helps in multiple ways. Buying local honey could make beekeepers less financially reliant on shipping their bees to California to fertilize almonds, something that takes a toll on bees while also contributing to transportation-related pollution. 

Sticking with local honey can also help you contribute directly to the reduction of carbon emissions due to the processing, packaging, warehousing, and mass distribution of honey and blended "honey" products. How? Local honey is distributed locally rather than being transported cross-country or even internationally. When demand for local honey displaces demand for mass-market industrialized honey, that'll lead to fewer food miles and reduced carbon emissions in the supply chain. 

Not-so-fun fact: Food miles are responsible for 3 gigatons of carbon emissions worldwide, per a study in Nature Food. Don't let that discourage you. Change starts one consumer at a time. Every person who stops buying industrially produced honey and replaces it with local honey will have an impact on reducing related pollution. 

7. Support the local economy

If reducing pollution isn't motivation enough to stick with local honey, consider the positive impact your purchase decision will have on your local economy. Local honey comes from local beekeepers, so buying local helps entrepreneurs stay in business and support themselves while also (in some cases) creating local jobs. What better way to be neighborly? 

The economic benefits of buying local honey don't stop there. Not only will you play a role in helping local beekeepers build and sustain successful enterprises, but you'll also boost your community as a whole by keeping your hard-earned money right there in the local economy. Sure, you could buy non-local honey at a local supermarket and some of your money would stay local. But not all of it. Some of it would go to the out-of-town producer and intermediaries along every step of the supply chain. 

Is this a big deal? Sure it is. A lot of the honey and honey blend products sold in U.S. supermarkets are imported from other countries. That number has been growing steadily over the last decade, with over 430 million pounds of honey being brought into the country in 2020. The more people who buy local honey, the less demand there will be for overseas honey — and fewer U.S. dollars will be leaving the country. 

8. Support the local bee population

It's not just the beekeepers and the local economy that benefit when you purchase local honey. You're also helping the bees. And who doesn't want to save the bees? After all, bees are essential to biodiversity and life on Earth as we know it. There have been and continue to be massive declines in the honey bee population, both in the wild and in commercial hives. The reality is that we need them, and for a lot more than just honey production. 

The bees need our support in order to survive. When there is a demand for local honey, there's an incentive for people to keep bees and take great care of them. When local beekeepers have a market for their product, they can keep running their businesses — or even expand — which means they will continue to raise bees in the communities where we live. And as long as there is a healthy bee population in the area, the local ecosystem will benefit. 

9. Boost local food production

Food is one of the reasons that bees are so important to humanity. After all, bees play a major role in pollinating crops. As a matter of fact, honey bees are the sole pollinator for around 80% of all flowering plants, including well over 100 food crops. Building a stronger local bee population helps everyone who's in the business of producing food and everyone who needs to eat food to survive — and that's literally everyone. 

In other words, building a healthy bee population helps everyone. That's right. There is no one who doesn't directly benefit from bees. When you buy local honey, you're also supporting nearby farmers as well as individuals and families who grow s their own food, because there are a whole lot of crops they couldn't grow if there weren't bees around to pollinate them. 

And if you enjoy farm-to-table meals or you prefer to eat produce within a few days of when it's picked rather than after it's been warehoused and shipped a long distance, it's important to realize that bees make that possible. Supporting local beekeepers by choosing local honey is an important key to playing a role in sustaining a healthy bee population and maintaining access to fresh, local food. 

10. Beautify the local area

We need food to feed our bodies, but the beauty of nature can feed our souls. Both are important. Bees do a lot more than just pollinate fruits and vegetables in their quest to gather pollen. They also pollinate flowers. And what would nature be without the incredible beauty of seasonal flowers in bloom? From native wildflowers to powerful perennials and fancy cultivars that grace the most elegant of landscapes, bees make all of it possible. 

If you love growing flowers, seeing wildflowers in bloom, or just admiring beautiful landscaping on display, it's important to be aware that bees are largely responsible for the beauty you have the honor to behold. The very bees who are responsible for locally available honey play an essential role in the aesthetics of the local landscape. Whether you enjoy cultivating flowers or yourself or if you prefer to admire their beauty from afar, isn't it wonderful to realize that buying local honey helps you play a role in making it all possible?

11. The best places to buy local honey

Are you sold on why it's so important to be uber-loyal to local honey? We certainly hope that you are. Once you make up your mind that local honey is for you, the next step is to know where to get it. If you don't already have a go-to source for local honey, it won't be hard to find one. The following resources will help you easily identify sources of local honey in your area. 

Each state has multiple Extension Service offices staffed by personnel who are in the know about local agricultural producers. Find your local office here and call to ask for a list of local honey producers. The National Honey Board has an interactive honey locator map that you can search to find honey producers in your town or region. This site is a great way to find local honey to buy when you are traveling too. Farmer's markets can be a great resource for finding local honey, but be sure to check product labels. Some markets require vendors to sell their own locally-produced goods, but not all have such a restriction. 

The sources above should quickly lead you to several places where you can get local honey. Chances are that you'll find more than just a few honey producers near your area. We encourage you to try honey from several local producers. You may discover a truly special one that's destined to become your very favorite type of honey.