New on Netflix: Rotten

There’s a new documentary series on Netflix called “Rotten” that I started watching this week. I have only watched the first episode so far, but it was very interesting and I will definitely continue to watch more. The series is dedicated to investigating corporate corruption in the food industry. It is American based, but that doesn’t mean the same kind of stuff isn’t happening here so I think it’s also relevant to Canadians.

The first episode is called “Lawyers, Guns & Honey”. It’s about the U.S. honey production industry and how American beekeepers and honey producers are being priced out of the market by China’s fake honey product. It’s about how corporations continue to come up with better and better ways to water down their honey with creative undetectable fillers that may or may not be dangerous to your health in order to increase their bottom lines. It’s about how the small family honey business is going the way of the dinosaur because they just can’t make enough money to keep the lights on. It’s about the fate of the honey bee.

Ok, I am vegan. I don’t eat honey. I don’t buy products that contain honey. But pretty much everyone else I know does buy honey. And a good many of them will pay even more to get an “all natural” product for their hair, skin, nails, or what have you that proclaims it’s made with “all natural” honey.

The truth seems to be though that unless you’re buying from a small business locally where you can see their hive, you actually have no idea what you’re buying or where it came from because even the businesses themselves are having to go to great lengths in order to find out where their honey is really coming from and if it is actually really honey.

The reality is that there is a huge demand for honey and honey based “all natural” products … BUT … the bees are dying. More demand … but less bees. Sound fishy to you? The bees are dying and nobody really knows why or how to stop it. Beekeepers are routinely losing half of their hives without warning or explanation. If cattle farmers started reporting those types of losses in their cattle populations we would all know about it and people would be freaking out trying to learn what was happening. But the bees are dying and nobody really cares.

I am vegan. I also don’t buy anything that used to be a cow.

But me being vegan doesn’t matter. Just because I am not currently helping to increase demand for these industries doesn’t wash away the fact that for years I did contribute to that demand and nearly everyone I know continues to contribute to that demand.

The bottom line about honey as far as I can see is that if you are going to buy honey go to the Farmer’s Market, find a local beekeeper, and support that local business. All those jars of honey you see in the big box stores and supermarkets, all those “all natural” beauty products you find on those same shelves, are likely not really honey at all and might contain products that aren’t even legal in the country because they could be harmful. Stop buying those things. Pay a bit more. Buy local. Know what you’re buying and who you’re buying it from.

If you haven’t started watching “Rotten” yet on Netflix, I think everyone needs to add it to their lists. I will be watching the second episode very soon.

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