This summer, I started going to farmer’s markets every week. While not everything is organic, the produce is less processed than in grocery stores. And as the vendors often tell me, “no spray.”
In food distribution systems, it is common to pick fruit before it’s ripe, so that it can survive a long transportation journey. Before the transportation process, food may be treated with radiation from gamma rays, x-rays, or electron beams to improve food longevity, to sterilize it, and to kill pests. Look for the Radura symbol to identify food that has been treated in this way. Then, to ripen fruit before placing it on grocery store shelves, it may be gassed with ethylene, which reactivates the ripening process.
Intuitively, I want my fruit and veggies to have ripened as fully and naturally as possible. With local farmer’s markets within blocks of my home, there’s no excuse not to eat locally and in season.
While wandering past the vendors, I stopped at a local honey stand. Curious, I asked about the giant block of beeswax and its potential uses. The young woman told me it could be purchased in bulk to make homemade cosmetics (think Burt’s Bees lip balm), moisturizers, or anything that required wax.
She also rubbed it on her shoes for waterproofing. I asked her if it left residue, and she acknowledged that it did, but said it wasn’t overly noticeable. I had to try it. I bought a small stick for a $1.00 and took it home. I had been wanting to get rid of my spray can of shoe protectant because of its chemical content, but I wasn’t sure what to replace it with. Why hadn’t I thought of beeswax before? I already own leather winter boots that are waterproofed with wax.
I haven’t used the stick of beeswax on my shoes yet, but I did use it to touch up lost wax on my wax-covered cotton cloths (from Bee’s Wrap). I use these to store food in the place of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and small containers. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about a wrapped cucumber in my fridge, and I needed to do some heavy washing to get the cloth clean again. In the process, the cloth lost some wax. It was fairly time consuming to rub wax on again, but it was also a therapeutic break from my day. After the fact, I considered if the wax would’ve been easier to work with if I had heated it first.
I also bought two pounds of local raw honey in a glass container for $14.00, which is cheaper than stores. I sampled several kinds before settling on standard clover honey. Honey has many health benefits, and I believe eating local honey is a factor in why I was able to stop taking allergy medications. Manuka honey, in particular, is many healing properties.
I love honey! And bees. I eat mostly vegan, except for honey. Sadly, bees are dying at an alarming rate due to pesticides and other factors. Bees are critical for pollination and growth, and they are vital to many common foods. In order to reverse the declining bee population and to bring them into the public awareness, I think it is necessary to appreciate and use their amazing byproducts like honey and beeswax. Visit your next local market to see how bees may benefit your home.