Contradictory as it sounds: Unless it’s fresh from the local bee keeper’s hive – honey has never really been my top choice when it comes to dressing up my porridge or adding that drop of sweet comfort to my cup of tea.
The thing is you see, is that not all honey is created equally – and I’m not sure I trust the kind you can access so easily in the supermarkets for a purse friendly price. I’m talking about that sticky liquid in a shiny shade of gold that rivals Gigi’s locks and is generously poured in to plastic squeezy bottles (ironically, made to look like a hive). Let’s face it: it’s the kind that has undergone a pretty intense heating process in order to mass produce them ready for the shop shelves – and I get the feeling that the welfare of the bees and the land that their plants are grown on are not so strong either. Do you ever think of that when you’re drizzling it all over your toast? Huh? HUH?
I joke, I joke – all in moderation, I say. But it does kinda make you think twice about whether it’s actually worth buying it at all; almost like a ‘Why have cotton when you can have silk?’ type situation.
And then we’ve got Manuka honey – a pricier option available from health stores and now supermarkets (an indication that food consumers are willing to pay £20 more if it means they’re getting the real deal) that is said to have those impressive immune boosting properties thanks to the fact it has come from bees that collects pollen from the Manuka flower. Phew! Making sense so far? Bare with – I promise we’re getting on to something interesting here…
But it turns out that the Manuka honey debate has caused quite the stir amongst the health and nutrition pro’s – as despite the high demand for the ‘healthier’ form of honey from the public, there are very few brands who can actually deliver the highest quality, truest product. So with all of these bold claims, views and opinions – how do we know who to trust, and what to believe?
On that note, allow me introduce you to True Honey Co; The specialist Manuka producer that have set out to provide a honey that sets the record straight on the whole Manuka authenticity debate.
Founded in 2012 in New Zealand, The True Honey Co have spent the past 4 years searching high and low for the most remote Manuka flowers to ensure that their unique honey is as real as it gets – and let me tell you, when it comes to going about their incredible mission – they don’t do anything by half measures. What you get is the best – and they have pretty strict rules to back them up on their claims.
As someone who was already intrigued by the ‘Great Honey Debate’, once I got the lowdown on how much dedication the True Honey Co team have put in to their brand I was totally fascinated to dig a little deeper and learn more about how important it is to choose your honey wisely – unless you want to throw your pennies away. I mean, just think of all the coconut yoghurt you could buy for the same price as that £20 Manuka you’ve been stocking up on! An actual full pot, perhaps? Maybe even 2, if it’s on offer…
SO TELL ME ABOUT MGO RATINGS…
See that +MGO logo right there on the beautifully branded jar? Yup, I had absolutely no idea what it meant until I came across these guys either. If, like me, you don’t naturally take in big scientific facts as well as you’d like (hey, we all have different strengths!) – the team described it to me in the most simple way possible: MGO (methylglyoxal) ratings is basically a way of measuring the horsepower inside the honey. What makes this product stand out from the crowd is that True Honey Co will only produce honey that starts from MGO 300+. Now that’s a hell of a lot of fuel in one pot!
They also source their honey from the most remote and rugged parts of the bush country, which as I’m sure you can imagine – ain’t all that easy to get to. Now, not only does this have an impact on the health benefits that honey holds, but also the taste. The TASTE! Can we talk about this for a sec please?
Creamy, not overly sweet and decadently rich; I have to say that I have never tasted honey quite like this bad boy, and I certainly have zero desire to could go back to the standard honey varieties any time soon! This, my friends, is the ultimate ‘creme de la creme‘ of honey: Add it to your oats, blend it in to dressings/marinades and spoon it in to your tea. Once you go Manuka, you won’t go back.
Now, there is just one tiny detail that may have sent my eyes shooting out of their sockets when chatting to the team and getting a brief on the products: The cheapest jar is £37.99 – and the most expensive raking in at £97.99. DAYUM!
Having said that, as I became to understand the EXTREMEly (!) lengthy process that the True Honey Co undergo to get the honey from the bees to the jars – I could actually justify it.
Given that there are many ways to use the honey (it’s also an amazing skin healer – but more on that in the interview!) and the health benefits knock all the cheap jars right off the shelves – I think that if you have the money to spend, then why the hell not? As a wise guy once said ‘Your health is your greatest wealth’, and I personally don’t mind forking out that little more if it’s going to actually benefit my well being. I’ve been using my pot of honey every day for the past month and I still have plenty left to keep me going, so at least we know it lasts longer than a £4 jar of almond butter. In fact, I think the record time I have managed to keep a jar of nut butter in my cupboard is around 2 days, 3 hours and 16 minutes – so you can see where I’m going with this…
If, like me, you’re curious to find out more about the importance of playing the honey game right, and why The True Honey Co are so passionate about delivering only the best – then read on, loves!
INTERVIEW WITH JIM MCMILLAN, THE TRUE HONEY CO FOUNDER
How does your honey differ from the Manuka honey’s currently on the market which are much cheaper?
When comparing Manuka honey, it is important you are comparing apples with apples.
Essentially our honey is truly authentic “The Real Deal” and has been produced in a very ethical fashion from some of the most pristine backcountry parts of NZ while taking care of every bee and everybody at every step. The key compound in Manuka honey that is responsible for its unique properties is Methylgyoxal (MGO) so that is the first thing to look at when comparing different Manuka honey brands and prices.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became so passionate about creating the purest and most authentic Manuka honey possible?
In the first instance I’m very passionate about Aotearoa, the beautiful country that we are fortunate to live in and I would like to play a role in ensuring that we leave the land in a better state for the next generation.
Secondly I have a very strong interest in the role natural products can play in the health and wellbeing of people.
So I guess when I combine the two factors above Manuka honey can play a key role in achieving both, I see Manuka honey as a precious gift from nature that has a number of scientifically proven health benefits. Manuka honey also has numerous other perceived health benefits by 1000’s of people around the globe, which we hope will be validated as more scientific research is undertaken into the future. An example of this is to think that Manuka honey could play a role in overcoming antibiotic resistance in different applications, which could be life changing for thousands of people.
Also if we are able to play a role in ensuring Manuka Honey has a long term sustainable future by educating and demystifying people about the product and providing landowners with an economical return (competitive with livestock farming), we will start to see a lot of Aotearoa’ s marginal/erosion prone farm land revert back into Manuka and preserve our country’s natural beauty.
What’s your favourite way to use True Honey in to your daily routine/lifestyle?
I guess I’m very fortunate to access to some of the world’s best Manuka honey so I have the privilege to use it in a variety of different ways.
· I personally love the taste of our honey so my favourite way to have it is 100% natural (Have a teaspoon each day and let it slowly dissolve on the back of your tongue)
· I use as a sweetener in a cup of tea
· I put a teaspoon in my smoothie in the morning
· I love to use it in my cooking, (mix with balsamic for a dressing on salads, use in meat dishes, drizzle on top of cooked carrots, porridge or even on top of ice-cream for a treat.
· My daughter makes the tastiest orange and manuka honey cookies
· If I have had a hard day working out in the field I find it very soothing to apply to my face while have a hot bath
The process of producing True Honey seems pretty intense! What’s been the toughest challenge for starting up the brand and producing Manuka on mass?
Certainly the process of producing truly authentic Manuka honey from some Aotearoa’ s most rugged backcountry landscape can be very intense. I personally don’t see challenges as tough, I see them as exciting. I love nothing more than to think innovatively to overcome any challenges or how we can use innovation and technology to continually refine and enhance our ability to produce the world’s most truly authentic Manuka honey.
And has your highlight of the True Honey journey been so far?
The privilege of working with a great team of people and working in some of the most beautiful, pristine parts of our country producing a precious gift from nature.
Now, I am not sitting here telling you all to spend all your money on jars of this admittedly pricey product – but I feel that the story behind True Honey Co is actually incredibly inspiring; the people put so much passion in to producing their products and for me, that is exactly where I choose invest my not just my money – but my support on.
My precious pot of True Honey and I have been getting TURNT in the kitchen – and I so look forward to sharing these sweet and savoury recipes with you! Watch this space, lovers.
Oh, and be sure to leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on these guys and their products! I’m so intrigued to hear about how you go about spending your money when it comes to health and food… Would you rather go for the cheapest option or go all out with the real deal?