BEE POLLEN

Best Health - - NUTRITION -

IT’S THE SEA­SON OF BOUNTY! WHAT bet­ter way to cel­e­brate 150 years of this spe­cial coun­try than in­dulging in the best of the sum­mer har­vest? I’m talk­ing about tasty blue­ber­ries and cher­ries, savoury sum­mer squashes, juicy wa­ter­mel­ons, re­fresh­ing cukes, cherry toma­toes as sweet as candy, and f laky pies baked with sweet sum­mer peaches. There’s one catch, though: We wouldn’t have any of our sum­mer favourites if it weren’t for bees!

There are many things we can be proud of as Cana­di­ans, but one of the many that top my list is that we are lead­ers in ef­forts to pro­tect bees. In 2015, the On­tario gov­ern­ment was one of the first to sign on to per­ma­nently re­duce 80 per­cent of the bee-harm­ful neon­i­coti­noid pes­ti­cides used on corn and soy seed.

With­out bees, we wouldn’t have our sum­mer favourites or the root veg­gies and tu­bers that sus­tain us through win­ter. For this rea­son, I’m mak­ing this the sum­mer of bee magic! That in­cludes en­joy­ing the best lo­cal honey, royal jelly, propo­lis and, this month’s fea­tured in­gre­di­ent, bee pollen, as cul­ti­vated and shared by my favourite lo­cal bee­keep­ers. Here’s why you might also want to hop on the bee train, which is truly the sweetest ride around.

THE GOODS

Male bees col­lect pollen from flow­ers and com­bine it with their saliva (called nec­tar) to form small pel­lets of mag­i­cal bee power (also known as bee pollen). The bees bring this pollen back to the hive as food for the colony. As they go from flower to flower col­lect­ing pollen, they also leave some be­hind. This is pol­li­na­tion, and it’s re­spon­si­ble for the in­cred­i­ble di­ver­sity in our food sup­ply. Why does this mat­ter to us? Well, this pollen, which we can get at lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­kets and health food stores, car­ries a power pack of health ben­e­fits for us.

THE BOOST

Bee pollen is one of the most nu­tri­ent-dense foods on the planet. It is ap­prox­i­mately 40 per­cent pro­tein and has dra­matic ben­e­fits for our en­ergy lev­els, thanks to its abun­dance of B-vi­ta­mins. Bee pollen has an­ti­fun­gal, an­timi­cro­bial, an­tivi­ral, anti-in­flam­ma­tory and an­ti­cancer prop­er­ties and is pro­tec­tive of the liver and sup­port­ive of the im­mune sys­tem, which makes it help­ful in pre­vent­ing disease. Stud­ies have also shown that bee pollen has the abil­ity to have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the al­lergy re­sponse in the body. I’m telling you, these pel­lets have some se­ri­ous flower power! And that’s just the nu­tri­tional side: With its sub­tle sweet­ness and flo­ral over­tones, it tastes like noth­ing else on earth. Good bee pollen is rich and creamy and melts in your mouth.

THE PLAN

When it comes to bee pollen, qual­ity counts. Much of what we see in stores comes from bees har­vest­ing pollen solely from corn­fields, so there aren’t the same di­verse flo­ral notes that you’ll find in pollen from bees who were out in fields of wild­flow­ers. As well, much of the bee pollen that is com­mer­cially avail­able has been heated to make it shelf-sta­ble and is of­ten very dried out. Qual­ity pollen from your lo­cal bee­keeper is the way to go. You want to en­sure that it’s been stored in a fridge or freezer, and re­mem­ber to do the same when you take it home. Bee­keeper’s Nat­u­rals is my go-to Cana­dian source for the best-tast­ing bee pollen (and other bee prod­ucts, in­clud­ing honey and propo­lis spray) I’ve ever had.

Bee pollen is de­li­cious added to smooth­ies, sprin­kled over ce­real and oat­meal, added as a top­ping to pan­cakes and waf­fles, mixed into veg­gie and fruit sal­ads and even sprin­kled on ice cream. Since it’s a power-packed su­per­food, it’s best to start small, with just half a tea­spoon on its own at first to en­sure that your body is on board. A lit­tle goes a long way! b

MEGHAN TELPNER

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