Words by: Jordan Rozenfeld
Although I usually write brunch reviews with the Trio, I ventured out on my own this past weekend. My mission: find Follow the Honey. As part of my Sustainable Energy Minor, I had the opportunity to take a Sustainable Development class in the College of Arts and Sciences. This semester I completed an independent project on the impact of bees on agriculture, which included researching topics such as the honey industry, as well as, sustainable food sourcing. This lead me to find Follow the Honey. This small business is located in Cambridge, MA extremely close to Harvard Square. Outside the store stands a beautifully written sign, describing the treasures that await inside; especially intriguing was the promise of local honey on tap.
After walking down the stairs to the front door (the store is below street-level), I was immediately greeted by a friendly employee and the sweet smell of honey that permeates the entire space. Each display looks so effortlessly put together and homey, but I could tell that someone spent hours lovingly developing each space. After taking in display after display, a sign caught my eye that said, “no spraying,” a reference to harmful insecticides.
This led me to talk to the woman working there. Follow the Honey Inc. is a store dedicated to stimulating economic development through “human rights” honey. The store believes its responsibility to the earth is to be held accountable for human actions that have affected bee health, which ultimately impacts our own well-being.
Being the curious consumer I am, I continued to ask questions regarding the varieties of honey they carried and was offered a “honey tasting.” Never one to turn down an opportunity to try premium delicacies, I jumped at the chance. I was skeptical at first because all the honey I have ever tried has come from a bear shaped container and has had a consistent flavor; but they had four unique honeys to try. I started off local, tasting a honey from Massachusetts. I was surprised at how granular the honey was and that it almost tasted gritty. Next we moved onto the Tupelo honey that was sourced from the Louisiana bayou. I was pleasantly surprised. The honey had a deep amber color and was smooth and thin with an extremely sweet taste. I could see it being perfectly used in a dessert. The third honey took me international to Tanzania. I was told they recently attained a sustainable partnership with the Tanzanian government to bring premium asali (honey) to Cambridge. This asali shocked me the most. It was savory. Never in my life had I expected to taste honey that had smoky undertones and that made me crave barbecue. Last but not least, we moved back to a sweet honey that was harvested in Hawaii. From the outside it was white in color and to be honest looked like coconut oil, but I was pleasantly surprised when it had the consistency of frosting.
The store inspired me to cook using “human rights” honey and I ended up purchasing a small container of the Tupelo honey from Louisiana. After doing some research, I learned that this is called Atchafalaya honey after the geographic location in the bayou. It is never heated or filtered and it is harvested using only time and nature.
I settled upon baking an Apple Cinnamon Honey Cake. Uncommonly known, bees are worth way more than just their honey. 100% of apples are dependent upon pollinators for a successful crop yield, of which 90% can be attributed to honeybees. The estimated value of honeybees to the apple industry is around $1.35 billion. Recently, nearly one-third of all honeybee colonies in the United States alone have disappeared. In the future, this will have devastating effects on food production not only in the U.S. but also around the world. Next time you pick up a fruit or vegetable, consider the hard work that came from the bees and think about where your food is sourced. I hope you enjoyed this article and the recipe included. I know I’ll be returning to Follow the Honey and creating this scrumptious cake again soon!
· 1 cup all-purpose flour
· 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
· 1 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (divided use- see instructions)
· 2 large eggs lightly beaten
· 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter melted
· 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
· 1 small teaspoon ground cinnamon
· Juice of 1/2 lemon
· 3 granny smith
· 1 tablespoon of honey
· Cooking spray
· Ice cream for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1 cup sugar and salt. Stir in the eggs, butter and vanilla. Spread the batter evenly into the pan.
- Squeeze lemon juice into a medium bowl. Peel and thinly slice the apples into the bowl. Add the cinnamon and ¼ cup sugar and toss to thoroughly coat each apple slice. Arrange the apple slices on top of the batter in overlapping rows, pressing lightly into the batter.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Brush the top of the cake with the honey. Cut into squares and serve with ice cream if desired.
*This recipe was modified from www.dinneratthezoo.com/apple-cinnamon-honey-cake/