A chronicle of the author’s world travels savoring local honey and learning the intricacies of its production.
Tasmania-based journalist Pundyk unblushingly compares a taste of honey to having “an orgasm in your mouth.” Hyperbole perhaps, but her travels to Yemen, Russia, Italy, Turkey, China and elsewhere make it easy to give her the benefit of the doubt. As an experienced travel writer who has helped write the Welcome to My Country Series, the author has knack for discovering out-of-the-way destinations and interesting people, and a stalwart sense of adventure. She traveled alone through Yemen in search of one of the most expensive honeys in the world (five liters of sidr honey costs $150); tramped through a 3,700-acre forest on the outskirts of Moscow in search of a bee house; visited Wewahitchka in the Florida panhandle to look for Tupelo honey, remembering along the way the Van Morrison song of the same name, and the Elvis songs (“Queen Bee,” “Wild Mountain Honey”) she first heard in the 1970s as a young Australian woman. Pundyk includes countless bits of knowledge gathered during her many journeys—bees have been the “pollinators of the plant world” for at least 100 million years; “1.2 million metric tons of honey is produced worldwide each year,” yet in an entire lifetime one bee produces only a teaspoon of honey—but her main purpose is to explore the effects of globalization on honey. China, the largest honey producer and exporter in the world, has had numerous problems establishing quality controls, exporting “poor-quality, adulterated, and contaminated honey.” Pundyk also looks at the still-unanswered question of “colony collapse disorder,” which is decimating hives around the world, not only threatening honey production but the pollination of other major crops.
A delightful book about a serious topic.