Vanishing of the Bees

Last Two Markets of the 2013 Season!

And sadly, what might be my final Market because one of my kids has a swim meet on the Last Market Day (11/23). But I'll still be eating and blogging away through the off-season, dreaming of fresh, local food again.

Time to get out there and grab your fresh eggs and fruits and vegetables, plus a couple hostess gifts for Thanksgiving, if you aren't the one hosting the feast.

Did you see the Sunny Honey Company's array of offerings?

Lip balm, candles, honeycomb, creamed honey with cinnamon--things you can either smear on your face, stuff in your face, or keep the room lit so you can see your face.

Beeswax, you light up my life

And, of course, honey:

I got some of the last of the fireweed, but you can see there are several varieties. Beekeeper Anne Smith of Whatcom County and her 56(!) hives do all the pollination for our own Alm Hill Garden. Great little workers, those bees. I asked Anne whether her colonies ever experienced the dreaded "Colony Collapse Disorder" that mysteriously wipes out whole hives of bees, she said No. Neither had Cary Therriault of our Thursday Market's Cascade Natural Honey, that I recall. Good news for Washington State, at least for the time being.

If you aren't using honey in your tea or to make Deborah Madison's granola recipe, you might want to give this luscious fall roast a try. Just a few ingredients, and they all came from last week's market.

Honeyed Cranberry Roast (from Mabel Hoffman's Crockery Cookery)

1 pork roast (I got mine from Van Vuren Farms, of the egg fame)

1 cup cranberries, minced or ground (got these from Bloom Creek Cranberry Farms--they promise to be back at the last Market, if they haven't sold out by then)

1/4 cup honey

salt and pepper

pinch of ground cloves and ground nutmeg

Season the roast with the spices and throw it in the crock pot. Mix the cranberries and honey and pour on top. I also poured in 1/4-1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Delicious! I served it with orzo and roasted butternut squash. And there was enough roast left over that I used it with a can of refried beans for burritos the next day. One minute of work, two meals for five. Not bad!

So come by and stock up these last couple weeks. And don't forget that free parking at gracious Barnes & Noble.

The Bees' Needs

Amid the Netflix furor, my husband and I popped in the disc for The Vanishing of the Bees. "I don't really want to see it," said the hub, "but I probably should." Not just because we were paying good money for the privilege of having that disc at home and will soon be paying more, but because I often subject him to Frightening Food Films, including Food, Inc., Super Size Me, and even, indirectly, Temple Grandin or Napoleon Dynamite.

The Vanishing of the Bees went beyond a "should watch" in our house because I'd been hearing about the mysterious, widespread disappearance of honeybees in North America (had no idea it was a global phenomenon) and was aware of random efforts like Haagen-Dazs's "Help the Honeybees" ice-cream fundraiser, but--even closer to home--we're a family of honey-eaters. Yes, 1/3 or more of the world's food supply might depend on the efforts of the humble honeybee, but when that fraction is your 1/3, you'll really sit up and take notice!

Top Five Uses for Honey in Our Household:

  1. To sweeten the afternoon tea.
  2. For my son's peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches. The kid does not do jam.
  3. For making Deborah Madison's granola. Her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone gets put through its paces in our house (and we're not even vegetarians). Here's a link to the easy, tasty recipe.
  4. To dribble on hot-from-the-oven buttered biscuits. (Also Deborah Madison's recipe, with 1/3 graham flour substituted.)
  5. To mix into Samish Bay's Greek Yogurt, along with a sprinkling of granola. (See #3)

Featuring beekeepers, farmers, politicians, Michael Pollan (no pun intended), and thousands of the little buzzers themselves, Vanishing of the Bees builds a compelling case for the crucial role bees play in the global food supply and what could be possibly leading to their catastrophic losses in so-called "Colony Collapse Disorder." Both a scary movie and a hopeful one. It made my husband want to keep a little colony in our backyard, following in the footsteps of his step-grandfather, who decades ago raised bees in Dayton, Washington, selling both honey and honeycomb locally. Thankfully this urge passed, since, in true UrbanFarmJunkie fashion, I would rather just pay the experts to do it.

Bellevue Farmers Market vendor Daniel's Honey of Black Diamond can be found on both Thursdays and Saturdays. I bought the monster 40-ounce jar for the discount and also because I like my honey stored in glass. That way, when it starts to crystallize, as all honey does, I can just give it a quick nuke in the microwave. Real honey from real local beekeepers is liquid gold--that was the sidebar I learned from the movie. Frequently, imported "honey" is adulterated with all manner of things to bring down its price. Chinese honey, in particular, has been called out several times, both for containing adulterations like high-fructose corn syrup and antibiotics banned in the U.S. But, hey, our country demands a cheap honey supply for its multitudinous processed foods.

With honey especially, buy local and know your farmer!