Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Meet Kelley and Debbie Flanders Local Honey Shop Owners / Real People Wednesdays

      Good Morning Readers! I have really enjoyed blogging about honey this week and I am even more excited to introduce you to Kelley and Debbie Flanders. I met Kelley about a month ago when I stumbled upon his honey shop while pursuing a local antique shop for some buckets for my herbs. The minute I walked in the door he greeted me with a friendly smile and kind words. I was in awe over how many different types of local honey they have available and even more impressed when Kelley was able to give me information on each one. I hope you enjoy learning from the experts and if you are in the MN area please visit their shop located on 50th and Xerxes. All the information on their shop can be found on their facebook

1.     Tell us a little about you and your family business.

       Debbie Flanders became involved in the honey business when her mother and stepfather transitioned their small dairy farm into an apiary.  Over the years working dual careers as a floral designer and landscape designer, Debbie also helped her family in the honey business.  Debbie’s entrepreneurial husband, Kelley Flanders, worked with the family business in the sales and marketing area.  They got the idea for the honey store after selling at fairs and farmers’ markets.

2.     How long have you worked with honey?

       We have approximately 23 years combined experience.

3.     What makes your house brand so special?

      Our house brand honey is economical, quality raw honey that is good for everything from sweetening tea to baking.

4.     Can you tell us the difference between raw honey and processed honey?

      Processed honey is pasteurized and micro-filtered.  Pasteurization destroys the important nutrients and anti-microbial properties of honey, and micro-filtering removes all the pollen, so essentially those two processes remove everything that is good in honey.  Raw honey has not been pasteurized or micro-filtered.  It retains all its nutrients and natural antimicrobial properties, and since the pollen is not removed, it also retains its unique individual flavor.

5.     What are the benefits of buying local honey?

       Many people like to buy local honey to help desensitize themselves from pollen allergies.  Local honey is needed for this because bees are gathering pollen from allergy-causing plants in the area they live in.  Desensitizing is best done in the winter months prior to the allergy season before the presence of allergy symptoms.  Other benefits of buying local honey is a significant reduction of fuel used for transporting to market, and the knowledge that you are helping to support small farmers and the local economy.

6.     Can you tell us why there are so many different types of honey and what makes them unique?

      The pollen and nectar from each variety of plant is unique and it is that uniqueness that flavors honey.  The combination of plant varieties, soil conditions and weather conditions adds to the uniqueness of each honey.  For example, one farmer’s clover honey may taste differently from another farmer’s clover honey, because of the growing conditions combined with what other additional plants may be in the area where the honey is produced.

7.     Do you know the health benefits of honey and some of their uses outside of being consumed?

      Unlike refined sugars, honey has many important vitamins and minerals in it.  In addition, its naturally anti-microbial properties help fight off infection and promote healing in the body. Honey can be used on small cuts and wounds to help healing occur more quickly.  (A small bandage over the wound will help keep the stickiness in place.)  Honey is also used to soothe and reduce the symptoms of colds.  Face washes, lip balms and soaps are made with honey and beeswax to help moisturize and cleanse the skin, and the anti-microbial properties help keep skin clear and glowing.  Medicinal honey is also used in burn units to help heal burns.

8.     What do you know about the bee shortage and why bees are so important to our ecosystem?

       Bees (and other pollinators) are dying off in record numbers.  Beekeepers and entomologists have dubbed it “Colony Collapse Disorder.”  This is happening worldwide, and is not unique to the U.S.  Researchers all over the world are working hard to solve the problem.  Heavy pesticide usage is thought to be the biggest factor, and research currently points to a class of pesticides call neonicitinoids, or “neonics” for short.

     Another factor is large monoculture (single variety) crops grown from genetically engineered plants that can withstand spraying with massive amounts of pesticides. These monocultures have eliminated much of the natural food supply for bees and other pollinators as they migrate.  “Shelter belts” planted with native plants around the crop margins could help reduce the problem.  Homeowners can help by delaying dandelion spraying in the spring until other plants are becoming abundant for pollinators, as dandelions are an important food source in early spring.  Planting native plants and making sure that nursery stock they buy for their yards is “neonic” free is another way to help.

      Bees are vital to our food supply.  They pollinate the plants we eat, and the plants that are eaten by animals that humans also consume.  Plants cannot grow and reproduce without pollination and, with the exception of a few grains; bees and other pollinators pollinate most of what we eat.

9.     What are some other facts you think we should know about honey?

      Honey is slightly sweeter than sugar, so less can be used to achieve the same sweetness intensity.  It not only imparts a unique flavor to any dish, but it also balances and enhances the flavor profiles of other ingredients used in a recipe.  It acts as a binder and thickener for sauces, dressings, marinades and dips.  It also provides and retains moisture to a variety of dishes and can even extend the shelf life of baked goods.  For additional information about honey and for honey recipes, check out the National Honey Board’s website at

Thank you Kelley and Debbie! We can't wait to use some of your honey for medicinal purposes and cooking! Readers, you can the other two posts in this week's Honey Series here: The Lowdown on Honey & An All Natural & Kid-Friendly Honey Cough Syrup

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