Honey From Africa: Taste Of The Wild
This organic raw honey from Africa will make you swoon with delight. It is like no other honey you have ever tasted. In her six-week life span, a single honey bee will only produce a quarter teaspoon of honey. Consider that the next time you plunk a dollop into your teacup or smear honey on your toast. Honey is sacred and medicinal, a product of hard work and collaboration. And this organic raw honey from Africa, is especially delicious.
No one understands this better than Anthony Baron Kirk, founder and “bee chief” of Aseda. Anthony’s passion for real honey and his appreciation for collaborative magic was born a few years ago, when he sampled one extraordinary spoonful of a friend’s stash of imported honey from Africa. Within three months, Anthony found himself on a plane to Africa to track down this liquid gold. Ultimately, this trek led to his founding of Aseda, maker of some of the world’s very finest and purest raw honey.
Untainted honey such as Aseda’s has unfortunately become a rarity these days. Many commercial beekeepers feed their bees high-fructose corn syrup or sugar and treat the hive with chemicals to kill mites and pasteurize the honey, destroying its nutritional properties. Furthermore, the imported honey found on grocery shelves is often not pure, but instead a blend of poor-quality honey (or no honey at all) and rice syrup or other sweeteners. This muck is usually tainted with antibiotics and other nasty substances.
Case in point: In 2001, hives in China were ransacked by an epidemic of foulbrood disease. The beekeepers fought back with strong animal antibiotics, including chloramphenicol, a carcinogenic antibiotic banned by the FDA. As recently as 2010, the FDA confiscated $32,000 worth of imported Chinese honey contaminated with this drug.
Even in the United States, commercial honey is often a product of monoculture. The bees—who are in a sense indentured slaves of the current agricultural landscape—are trucked from bloom to bloom, often foraging crops contaminated by pesticides and industrial pollutants. These messengers remind us that everything is connected, and pure sacred sweet is facing extinction.
Real raw honey is akin to fine wine, with hundreds of unique types and flavors. The possibilities are endless and the benefits are many. The taste and consistency depend on so many variables: the year, the season, the climate, the region, and the plants and trees the bees pollinated during that particular bloom. For example, Aseda’s raw honey comes from Africa comes specifically from the Mole National Forest in Ghana. The unique geography of the ancient and preserved forest creates a combination of flora and indigenous bee population that is untouched by modernization.
This remote preserve is replete with wild animals and is untouched by agri-farms, industrial plants, urban sprawl, or clear-cutting forest operations. The bees pollinate shay trees, the calabash fruit, and some cocoa, giving the honey a deep dark brown/black color and a smoky-tasting flavor ‘unlike any other on the planet.’ Adding to the distinction of hue is the fact that Ghana is the closest land mass to 0 degrees longitude and latitude on Earth, says Anthony. Not only is the nectar raw and wild, but it’s rich in minerals and enzymes.
Tasting Aseda Wild Honey is definitely an exotic experience. It surprises the senses with a flood of complexity. An initial burst of rich, smoky maple gives way to a deep chocolate flavor and, finally, a “finish” of sweet undertones.
Aseda Means Gratitude
During his initial trip to Africa, Anthony met and befriended Nana Kwasi, the tribal chief of the Ashanti-Twi people. The integrity of the Ashanti-Twi culture inspired him to create Aseda and structure it as a cooperative in 2009.
In turn, the chief recognized a noble intention and golden heart in Anthony. The two forged a “special and exclusive” friendship.
Nana and Anthony laid the foundation, and the newly founded Aseda (aseda means gratitude in the Twi language spoken by the Ashanti) agreed to purchase honey from the sustainable beekeepers by paying the industry set price in Africa and establishing a higher standard of “fair trade.”
“A true cooperative arrangement creates personal ownership and solidarity,” Anthony explains. “Aseda introduces hive infrastructure and, over time, the village beekeepers purchase the hives from Aseda. Under normal circumstances in Ghana, a hive would take a beekeeper a lifetime to purchase. With the industry created by Aseda, that same beekeeper can create ownership within a few years.”
This has allowed families and communities in Africa to stay together. Utilizing sustainable beekeeping practices also infuses the ecosystem with increased biodiversity and greater yields for village farming.
Once back in the United States, Anthony began building Aseda’s infrastructure on this side of the world. Aseda tested the honey to ensure its integrity, pristine nature, and fundamental health properties. They also developed sustainable packaging and labeling. Four years later, Aseda is a sustainable industry for the people of Mole.
Anthony contends that Aseda has not yet paid for the expensive process of organic certification. It’s in the works. However, the simple truth is that the Mole National Forest is one of the last truly pristine places on earth. It is insulated by a 50 mile no pesticide/herbicide/insecticide/commercial agriculture/no- gmo zone in all directions. Africa is one of the last places on Earth where corporate agriculture, monoculture, GMO seeds, industrialization, nuclear power, and mass pollution have yet to dramatically erode the country.
“We do not stop at just protecting the integrity of our product,” Anthony says. “We practice these principles to also ensure the authenticity of the tribal community, the natural environment, and the preservation of the bees. This is conscious commerce as Aseda sees it — not capitalism.”
Incidentally Aseda air freights their honey and are currently moving to ocean freight to continue decreasing their carbon footprint. At some point they will be launching a “Transparency Campaign” to invite people to know exactly how Aseda does business.
Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, professional researcher, and producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.
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