Here's wishing you a "sweet" new year

September 8, 2010


Chicago Honey Co-op's star product (photo: Amanda Temple)

At sundown tonight, Jews around the world begin the High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. One of the culinary traditions (along with brisket, matzo ball soup and kugel) is that every table is set with apples and honey. ‚ Apples obviously represent the harvest, but the honey is symbolic as a sweetener. ‚ It's crucial if you want your new year (5771 if you're keeping track at home) to be a sweet one, and so while many people will just pick up the first plastic honey bear jar they see in the grocery store, this year, I'm setting my table with a locally-made product. ‚The Chicago Honey Co-op has been producing honey from a series of hives on the West Side the past few years. The bees travel in a radius of a few miles, pollinating flowers along the way and bringing back the goods to an abandoned lot just a few blocks south of the Eisenhower Expressway. The honey is sold at the Logan Square Farmer's Market, as well as the Green City Market.

The City of Chicago sells the honey it harvests from hives on various downtown rooftops. You can find this at‚ Chicago's Downtown Farmstand, 66 E. Randolph St. The hives are managed by the Chicago Honey CoOp, and sales support programs in that building, Gallery 37.

Also, Bob Kress sells honey he makes in Michigan at the‚ City of Chicago's farmers market on Tuesdays at Fedaral Plaza.

September is National Honey Month. For your sweet pleasure, some quick facts: 

- Americans consume nearly 1.5 pounds of honey per person every year.
- An estimated 300 unique varieties of honey exist in the United States. Common types include clover and orange blossom. Rarities include mint and Hawaiian white honey.
- It would take two tablespoons of honey to fuel one bee's flight around the world.
- Some of the most noxious weeds produce the most delicious honey. Dandelion, the bane of most every gardener, produces a beautiful, golden honey.
- A recent study found honey is an effective moisturizer and skin toner. Simply adding a few drops to your regular lotion gives it a moisturizing boost.
- During the cane sugar rationing of World War II, millions of Americans sweetened their coffee with honey.
- The National Honey Board is holding a recipe contest through Sept. 15. You can enter via‚ honey.com for the chance to take home one of three Le Creuset cookware prizes, ranging in value from $200 to $1,600.