This time of year – with spring planting, flowers and veggies on the horizon – it’s time to give a major shout-out to the honey bee, the busiest of insects. And we’ve got something very special on our Big Board Buys this week that wouldn’t exist without them. Real, authentic, Pacific Northwest honey from GloryBee is on sale right now for just $3.98 lb. in Bulk Foods (that’s a savings of up to $3.01 lb.). You’ll have two weeks to explore all three different varieties, too — clover, blackberry and raspberry.
These aren’t cloyingly sweet, over-the-top flavors with cartoony colors. As Nita Wills, our Bulk Foods Category Manager recently informed me, local honey is a subtle affair, with flavor notes that are as varied and interesting as the grapes used to craft wines or the way grass can provide subtle flavors to the cheese, or steaks, from the cows that eat that grass.
‘It’s very a mild, mellow flavor that comes from the flower nectar the bees used to make the honey,” Nita explained.
The clover flower lends a caramel accent with notes of toffee, molasses, cotton candy and crème brûlée, which would be amazing on your next morning biscuit with butter. “I personally really like the blackberry and raspberry varieties because they’re warm, subtle and very versatile. Just perfect for my favorite teas,” Nita said. They’re great for drizzling on granola or ice cream, too.
Since GloryBee gathers the honey right here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s fresher and hasn’t been sitting in the back of truck during a long drive across the country.
“Plus, there are people who say that eating local honey helps relieve their allergy symptoms in a natural way,” Nita said.
Hey, as a lifelong allergy sufferer, that’s something I can get down with.
GloryBee got its start raising bees in the backyard of a Washington home in 1975 and selling the honey at a simple family honey stand. Nearly 44 years later, they’ve added spices, dried fruits, nuts and oils to the mix, earned a B Corporation Certification, and supply lots of local businesses around the Northwest.
Western honey bee populations are declining drastically. Every purchase of GloryBee products, like our Pacific Northwest honey on Big Board, helps support the Save the Bee research and the effort to raise awareness and prevent Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Town & Country Markets is happy to be a part of this partnership to help Save the Bee.
“It’s the heart of what GloryBee does,” Nita said. “Food crops could disappear if we don’t support them. Almonds are directly affected, fruit crops, and more. Purchase of any product in Bulk Foods with the Save the Bee label helps.”
If you’d like to try a few recipes that showcase honey, we have a recipe from Tammy at our Poulsbo store for “Tarragon Honey-Mustard Marinade” that is great for marinating fish, chicken or pork – as well as a dipping sauce or salad dressing. Only six ingredients!
Or how about some Honey-Nut Protein Bars? These are packed with oats, flax seeds, cocoa powder, nut or seed butter and quinoa in addition to the honey.
Supplements by Host Defense Mushrooms
Our Health & Beauty Care (HBC) managers have been brushing up on all the good things Host Defense Mushrooms products do for both health AND helping combat CCD for bees.
Their line of dietary supplements have a small but very loyal following in our markets, and in a research partnership between Host Defense and the University of Washington, bees that foraged on the same fungi that Host Defense uses in their supplements were able to better fight viruses that often lead to CCD. How rad is that?
Bobette Hall, HBC Manager at Town & Country Market on Bainbridge Island, is a big fan of Host Defense. “It’s a great product and different from most of the items I carry. The Host Defense people really care about the environment and what they put into their bodies. Each type of mushroom product is unique and my customers who already know about them absolutely love them.”
Ask your market’s HBC Manager about the complete line of Host Defense products — capsules, powders, and teas — and help us bring aware to CCD and this critical threat to our food supply.
Organic herb starts arrive from Oregon
This is how we plant the seeds.
In our garden, in our garden.”
It’s really starting to feel like winter is behind us. I, for one, am r-r-r-ready for some warm weather and some bright, bushy basil plants flourishing on my windowsill.
Did you know that gardening is actually good for you? For years, scientists have said that daily interaction with nature just makes us feel good, especially if you live in big city. And gardening is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to get that one-on-one time with Mother Nature and help reduce stress, anger and fatigue (if I grow a mini-forest of basil on my balcony, all the stress of parenting a 1-year-old will melt away, right?).
For the second year, we’ve partnered with Westwind Gardens in Forest Grove, Ore., to provide you with fresh, early spring herb and veggie starts in our Flower Shops, with up to 12 different varieties of non-GMO seeds to choose from: cilantro, thyme, dill, marjoram, oregano, mints and more. All of the starts are grown without the aid of neo-nicotinoid pesticides, which have been shown to harm bee colonies.
“Everything Westwind offers is organic,” said Melanie Cherry, our Floral Category Manager. “It’s one of the many reasons why I’m excited about this new partnership. I remember when I went to visit them two years ago. I noticed they had this big garden separated off to the side from their main greenhouses. They told me they set it up specifically for their employees, who can plant their own personal veggies and herbs, tend them, and then harvest them to eat. During the busiest months, one of the owners often comes in early on Monday mornings to make breakfast for the rest of the employees. It’s those kinds of things that told me all I needed to know.”
Westwind got its start in a single greenhouse on a little more than five acres in 1992. Since then, they’ve been growing and selling their herbs and veggies at local farmer’s markets —they’re known for awesome eggplants — and eventually providing fresh produce to restaurants in the Portland area. And during that time they’ve continually fostered their commitment to sustainable growing practices, dubbing their products “PlanetWise Plants.”
As you and your green thumb put together your gardening plan this year, we invite you to come to our markets and explore the unique variety of Westwind Gardens’ starts. The specific varieties could change in the weeks and months ahead depending on weather so check in often!
And when those herbs are big enough to provide a return on your “labors,” here’s a recipe to put them to work – Cheddar and Herb Scones. Imagine how much fun it will be to get to the line: “2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped” and you can just step outside and get what you need. So fresh!
Our very own cheese whiz, Shauna Howell, offers up a cheese worth discovering.
TWIN SISTERS WHATCOM BLUE: This creamy blue really is a favorite of mine. It’s made with rich, unpasteurized, Jersey cow’s milk, which lends a complex yet very approachable blue flavor.
I love to get my non-blue lover friends to try it and watch their faces light up, especially with a smear of tangy sour cherry spread.
It’s also one of my favorite locally made cheeses. Twin Sisters Creamery is family-run right in Ferndale, just north of Bellingham. The twin sisters are real, too!
They might only be 10-year-olds, but they roll up their sleeves right alongside Mom and Dad to help make their delicious cheese.
Chris Allen is a copywriter and assistant marketer with Town & Country Markets. He’s a former contributing editor, radio anchor and producer, and an Air Force veteran. He’s also mastered the art of chopping red onions with one hand while sipping a dry Tempranillo in the other.