Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Taste of Honey

Yesterday, our back yard was hectic with bees, zipping back and forth in the sunlight, turning the air golden and making me briefly and fizzingly optimistic. Bees are indicative of a healthy ecosystem. They provide plant pollination, fertilizing up to a third of the crops we eat. When you look at it that way, they're responsible for a big chunk of our food supply. That's a lot of responsibility resting on those little wings. Without bees, the plants don't get pollinated, there's no vegetables, no fruit, no seeds, no new plants and the whole system ends up in the crapper.

You have read, no doubt, about the current bee crisis. It's called Bee Colony Collapse Disorder, in which deranged bees go out and gather pollen but get lost and can't find their way back to the hive and so perish. First detected in 2007, it's done in a full third of the colonized bee population here and in Europe. It's caused by mites (maybe). Fingers have also been pointed at monoculture, pesticides, dwindling food sources and all of the above. In other words, human interference. This is what we're good at. This is what we do.

While the syndrome originally garnered a fair amount of media buzz (sorry, forgive pun), less attention has been given to its possible cure http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414084627.htmr.
Maybe because it involves giving bees antiobiotics. More interference on our part. There's the distinct possibility we're addressing the symptom without addressing the whole problem. In his 2008 book A Spring Without Bees, Michael Schacker posits bee colony collapse disorder is an environmental wake-up call, with long-term implications including potential eradication of our species.

This is nothing I'm looking forward to. However, it turns out there are more pressing concerns. My back yard may be healthy, but someone I care about is not.

I have uncharacteristically put some honey in my tea this afternoon because there’s something soothing in its sweetness (wich has a bit of beelike sting, too) and the thick flow of it and frankly, I could use some soothing. Vegans are supposed to have no truck with honey coming, as it does, from animals. Honey, as you know, is made by bees. Bees are animals, ergo. . . .

The official definition of vegan, courtesy of Donald Watson, who created the term in 1944, is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life.”

While my occasional honey use would have offended Donald Watson, he wouldn't be able to ding me on the reverence bit. I have no quarrel with bees and clearly, they have no quarrel with me, making themselves at home in our necklace pod and firebush, collards and broccoli. They are welcome and they delight me.

I’ve sliced and diced and rationalized my rare use of honey. I've concluded bees have been pollinating plants back when we were walking on our knuckles. They’ve also been making honey for all this time. This is what they do. You could say they’re a lot more productive and powerful than we are. I have more faith in the bees than they have any right to have with us. And rather than be miffed at us, what do they do? They make honey, which is antioxidant, anti-bacterial antiviral, nutient-rich and delicious. The honey I get is from my community shared agriculture program -- it’s local and organic and I know the source if not the actual bees.

Here is what I know -- all our days are numbered. My beloved friends’ may be countable on your fingers and toes. More about this and more about bees in time, but not now, if you don’t mind. Hug someone you like and if you’re so inclined, eat honey because it’s sweet and reminds us we’re alive.

There’s a little sting, a little sweetness in this super easy summer salad.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teapoon smoked paprika

good pinch cayenne

1 pound carrots (about a dozen)

4 teaspoons honey

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Using a food processor, shred carrots. Alternately, show off your knfe skills and chop carrots into matchsticks.

Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small skillet over low heat, heat oil and spices, stirring until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

When cool, add add to carrots and toss. Add honey and lemon juice and season to taste.

May be made up to a day ahead and refrigatored.

Stir in parsley just before serving and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

No comments:

Post a Comment