An obsession with raw honey grew out of buying raw honey from a local beekeeper when we visited the Spanish Pyrenees during family holidays. We used to stop at a little shop on the border between Spain and France, where we found amazingly good honey for sale, with lots of varieties we had never heard of - like raw Oak. I live in Brighton and work very close to the Open Market. I am happy to say my Honey is exclusive to Foodshed. We sell raw and organic honey from Europe and the UK.
We were stunned by the flavour of the honey compared to the honey that was available in supermarkets in the UK.
During our trip to the Pyrenees we were stunned by the flavour of the honey compared to the honey that was available in supermarkets in the UK. Bringing jars back for friends and family alerted us to the fact that we might be onto something really exceptional - we couldn’t meet the demand.
That honey came from a beekeeper called Ramon. It proved very difficult to track him down - he didn't answer the phone and didn't have a web site.
Eventually he returned our call in late 2007 and then we arranged to visit him and his hives. I suppose we were expecting a grey haired older man but Ramon proved to be a hip dude type, not really a hippie but someone who has rejected a consumerist lifestyle. Even seven years later he still refuses to have a web site – and who can blame him, his honey is so superb that it sells via word of mouth.
We ended up bringing about 60 kilos of his honey back and it sold very quickly online and at markets around Brighton.
That made us decide to become honey traders and we have established a series of relationships with other beekeepers who are committed to producing raw honey in an ethical way.
There is Antonio, who is an organic beekeeper. Then we also have relationships with a series of local beekeepers. There is Sean who has hives in Stanmer Park and Tony whose hives are at Plumpton. However, the supply of local honey is very limited - quite simply the demand is greater than the supply.
The Raw Honey Shop sells both monofloral and multifloral honey - from UK and northern Spain.
Monofloral honey- when the honey is predominantly from one floral source. Multifloral is when it is from a variety of flowers.
Honeydew- comes from trees like pine and oak - this is not from flowers but from tree resin that has kindly been partly processed for the bees by aphids.
The monofloral honey types we sell-
chestnut, oak, heather, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, wild lavender, thyme, orange blossom, lemon blossom, sunflower, multifloral, coriander, pine, lime tree and acacia.
Typical multifloral honeys we sell-
Sussex honey, Oxfordshire meadow flower, forest honey (trees and forest plants) and mountain honey (generally alpine flowers and pine).
We also sell a small amount of raw organic manuka honey (which has been shipped rather than flown to the UK).
The main theme of our shop is that the honey is raw - that is it is not pasteurised and it is not fine filtered. Commercial honey is blended from many sources and then heated to a high temperature, which destroys many of the qualities of the honey and destroys the subtle flavour that raw honey has. Fine filtering takes out the pollen and other good bits, like propolis.
We only buy our honey from small scale beekeepers who are committed to the ethical production of honey and who do not use chemicals or antibiotics to treat their bees - like Ramon.
Ramon is very committed to raw honey and to a traditional style of beekeeping. His honey is not pasteurised and is only coarse filtered so that the pollen remains in the honey. He doesn't give his bees antibiotics or use chemicals.
If possible we purchase from organic beekeepers. However, the cost of getting certified is often too much for small scale beekeepers so ultimately we are more interested in their beekeeping practices than whether they have an organic certificate.
We also supply bee pollen, which is a very nutritious food containing a broad spectrum of nutrients that meet virtually all the needs of the body - higher in protein than steak and with a complete compliment of B vitamins.