Thursday, March 22, 2007

Previous Slow Food St Louis Events: Honey Tasting

Profound thanks to Lynn Krause for allowing us to hold the honey tasting at the Viking Store. We tasted 30 honeys from around the world. But prior to the tasting Joy Stinger presented a brief lecture on the life of a beekeeper and her bees. To the startled amusement of all she donned her beekeeper suit .

Lynn Krause prepared chicken breasts rolled in panko, sautéed and then finished in the oven. This was served with honey mustard and a honey balsamic vinegar reduction. To allow us a taste comparison, she prepared one batch of oatmeal cookies made with honey the other with sugar. This was accompanied by mead, the honey wine drink. While eating we viewed the slide show 90 year old Jim McCaskill had put together years ago. It has been converted to a DVD. In a league with the Disney nature pictures of yore, the slides were intensely beautiful. Pam C., Lana S. and Julie N. won the door prizes of bottles of honey.

  • The Mesozoic Era, approximately 100,000,000 years ago, brought flowers and bees first appeared among the insects.
  • The earliest known record of honey collecting is from a 7,000 BC cave painting in Spain.
  • Hives were placed on rafts in Egypt and floated down the Nile for pollination purposes as well as honey production.
  • Honey was used in the embalming process for pharaohs.
  • The Greek god of beekeeping was Aristaeus.
  • One tablespoon of honey contains 65 calories.
  • American Indians called honeybees “white man’s fly” as the European bees spread ahead of European man.
  • Bees and their kin do not see red; red flowers are pollinated by birds.
  • The fertile eggs the queen lays become workers. The infertile eggs she lays become the drones, whose only function is to fertilize the queen, so the drone has a grandfather but no father!
  • Future queens are created by feeding the eggs and larvae royal jelly.
  • Multiple queen cells are created but when the first queen appears from her cell, she kills the other queen larvae in their cells. (There can be circumstances when this does not happen.)
  • The only poisonous honey is produced from Mt Laurel blossoms and contains andromedotoxin. (Any mystery writers out there?)
  • Statistics: One bee would fly 3 earth orbits using 1 oz. of honey for fuel to collect enough nectar to produce one pound of honey.
  • Honey is/has been used in golf balls, shaving creams, shampoos, gear lubricants, chewing gum and tobacco.
  • Below 45 degrees bees become paralyzed if not within their hive.
  • Scent organs are located on the bee’s antennae; queens have 2,000 organs, workers 6,000 and drones 30,000.
  • A queen may lay up to 5,000 eggs at her peak, 1,500 to 2,000 is normal.
  • Bees were used in wars: Henry I hurled bees among the horses of the Duke of Lorraine during their dispute. In WWI the German troops in East Africa used bees to fight the British.
  • If this has tweaked the interest of any of you, a good book to read is The Golden Throng by Edwin Way Teale.

Author Activist to Speak at Benefit for SLU Educational Initiative, March 5th

Anna Lappé, an author and social activist on environmental issues, will speak at a dinner to raise funds for a hands-on Saint Louis University project that teaches elementary and middle school students about gardening, cooking and nutrition.

The fundraiser for the Garden to Table project will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 5 in Fresh Gatherings Cafe, which is located in the lower level of the Doisy College of Health Sciences building, 3437 Caroline Mall on Saint Louis University’s campus.

A gourmet dinner with locally grown food and locally produced wine will be served. Tickets are $50.

Fresh Gatherings is a sustainable restaurant that serves healthy meals made from locally produced food products and practices composting and recycling. It is operated by the department of nutrition and dietetics.

The department also is the lead partner on a project that taps into the talents of Saint Louis University nutrition and dietetics students to teach students at Humboldt and Sigel Schools that food doesn’t start out at the local grocery store. The students garden, cook and study about nutrition. The Missouri Botanical Garden is a partner on the educational initiative.

Lappé is the author of the bestselling “Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet,” which received the Nautilus Award for Social Change. Her second book, “Grub: Ideas for an Urban, Organic Kitchen,” was published last year.

Lappé encourages Americans to buy locally grown foods, support fair trade, and voice opinions to protect our planet. Lappé is co-founder of both the Small Planet Institute and the Small Planet Fund. She is a compelling public speaker, with past talks at schools such as Yale University and Brown University. To learn more about Lappé, visit

Those who attend the dinner will receive a signed copy of “Grub,” which explores issues of social change and its impact on our food systems.

Lappé also will speak at a lunch earlier in the day, also at Fresh Gatherings. Tickets, which include the meal and talk, are $15. Both events are open to the public.

Tickets are available in advance by calling 314-977-8523 or at the door.

Slow Food St. Louis helped sponsor this event.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Reminder SLOW FOOD Trivia Night

We still have spots for Convivial Pursuit, a friendly game of food trivia to benefit Slow Food St. Louis. This event takes place Sunday, March 25th from 4-8pm at Mad Art Gallery, 2727 S. 12th Street, St. Louis, MO 63118.

We've lowered ticket prices...get yours now!Ticket prices are $20 each. Price includes Schlafly Beer, wine, soda, and water.

To purchase a table, mail your check or money order made out to Slow Food St. Louis, to: Sara Hale, 1925 South Ninth Street, St. Louis, MO 63104. Be sure to include your contact name, email, phone number, and name of your team. Send questions to

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bee Alert When Checking Hives This Spring

This information comes from:
Extension and Ag Information
University of Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A new phenomenon among the beehives has beekeepers and researchers buzzing. A breakdown in normal colony structure is causing bees to abandon their hives, said a University of Missouri extension entomologist.

"They're leaving the queen, which is unusual," said Richard Houseman, associate professor of entomology. In many hives, there are no bees at all. The brood, or young, remain capped. Affected hives also are slow to be "robbed out" by other colonies. This phenomenon, first identified last fall, is known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Bee experts are unsure of the cause. The disorder has been reported in 24 states. Missouri is not on the list.

State entomologist Mike Brown said he hasn't had any official reports of CCD in Missouri. "Everything I have heard has been anecdotal," he said.

Both Houseman and Brown encourage beekeepers who have hives showing symptoms of the disorder to report their findings to the Missouri Department of Agriculture or the University of Missouri. They will need to complete a confidential survey about the details of their loss.

"It may provide some clues or common threads, such as practices beekeepers should avoid," said Houseman.

Art Gelder, owner of Walk-About Acres outside Columbia, also has heard of hives being affected. He has just begun to check hives and has already noticed one hive exhibiting symptoms of the disorder. "No bees," he said. "No dead bees, no live bees. Just honey.

"It's kind of scary. Not only can you lose half of your honey crop, but you also lose the pollination." And pollination is what the buzz is all about.

"In some states, the impact (of low bee numbers of pollination) may be large depending on the major crops," said Houseman. "In Missouri, our major crops are corn and soybeans, and they're self-pollinating."

He said growers of fruit and vegetable crops, such as apples, cucumbers and watermelons, may see an impact because those plants are pollinated by honey bees. Right now Missouri's bee status is unknown.

"More information should be made available as the temperatures start to warm and beekeepers start to get out to check their colonies," Brown said.

Gelder said he plans to report his loss after checking the rest of his hives.

"We just have to wait for scientists to figure out what's going on nd go from there," he said.

A multi-state working group comprised of researchers, extension agents and regulatory officials from Pennsylvania State University; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; Florida Department of Agriculture; Bee Alert Technology, Inc., affiliated with University of Montana; Florida Department of Agriculture; and the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service is considering several hypotheses about possible causes, including transmitted pathogens, an immunosuppressive disorder and sublethal insecticides.