Honey, I’m home: Local Honey promotes bee health and sells sweet treats at the Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show | VailDaily.com

Honey, I’m home: Local Honey promotes bee health and sells sweet treats at the Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show

Joe Rodriguez (left) and Jeff Issacson (right) work at the farmers' market tent. Issacson uses local honey to sweeten his gelato, sorbet and Italian ice, which is also for sale at the market.
Casey Russell | crussell@vaildaily.com

When people think honey, usually the first thing that comes to mind isn’t sustainability. Maybe “sticky,” or “Winnie the Pooh” or “I’m allergic to bees.” But bees and their sweet byproduct are vitally important for Earth’s ecosystem and food supply. Protecting bees is one of many key points climate change advocates and casuals alike are focusing on in the effort to reverse rising global temperatures. And there’s no easier way to do that than by visiting the farmers’ market.

Since bees pollinate plants – including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and the grass that livestock eats – losing them would be detrimental. Put simply, a 2013 article from Sustainable America, a national non-profit, “as the bee population declines, so does our food supply. As our food supply diminishes, the cost of food increases.” For some perspective, bees are responsible for $20 billion worth of crop production in the U.S. annually, Matthew Mulica, senior project manager at the Keystone Policy Center, explained to ABC News earlier this year.

The honey comes in varying sizes.
Casey Russell | crussell@vaildaily.com

Bee populations have declined by just under 40% just from October 2018 to April 2019 alone, according to research by the University of Maryland’s Bee Informed Partnership. Last winter, populations declined by just over 30%. Some bee population loss is natural in the winter, but an acceptable rate has hovered around 20% for the past few years.

One way to help save the bees is to bee keep in your backyard, but that’s not feasible for everyone. An easy way to help out is to buy honey from local beekeepers, and the Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show has offerings for that.

Marked mostly by its to-the-point tent sign, Local Honey sources its products from 3,000 hives spanning form Glenwood Springs to Rifle. It’s minimally-processed, and not only is it environmentally-friendly, but it can also help with allergies. When consuming local honey, individuals ingest small amounts of pollen from their surroundings, which helps the body become less sensitive to it. That’s why the local part is so important – it doesn’t work like that with store-bought varieties.

“It doesn’t get any more local than that,” said Joe Rodriguez, who works at the booth.

The tent’s Local Honey sign is to-the-point and easily recognizable.
Casey Russell | crussell@vaildaily.com

The tent also hosts Jeffreezz’s, a gelato, sorbet and Italian ice business owned by Glenwood resident Jeff Isaacson. After growing up learning how to make frozen desserts from his mother, Issacson combined his experience working as a commercial beekeeper with his culinary knowledge to create all-organic, honey-sweetened treats, which he now sells at the Vail market.

“I’ve been doin’ bees for about 47 years,” he said.

Of course, they sell honey-flavored gelato, but other flavors include vanilla and lemon-ginger. Issacson has recipes for 63 different flavors, across the three treats he makes.

Jars of honey come in various sizes, including a tiny bear-shaped one that costs $5. There are also 12 oz. squeeze bottles and a 48 oz. jug. The booth also sells hot tea, which is a perfect vehicle for tasting the honey, especially as summer winds down into the fall.

Buzzing Across the Country

If you’re not from Vail, the National Honey Board has a great map to help you find where to buy local honey near you. Go to honey.com/honey-locator to search for vendors by state and zip code. There are also search parameters for flowers, form of honey and selling wholesale. The map has listings all across the continental U.S., Hawaii and Alaska, as well as a few listings in Canada, Puerto Rico and even one in Berlin.

The National Honey Board’s website offers a locator for local products near you.
Casey Russell | crussell@vaildaily.com