Raw honey: marketing standards
I've been beekeeping for seven years. My main market for my honey is at an entertainment center gift shop (uniformed customers) and at three local food co-ops (semi-informed customers).
I've been rather isolated in my beekeeping, just doing what I do and buying more equipment... not attending beekeeping meetings or reading apiculture magazines. Here is a funny story about my never having heard of raw honey. Raw honey, sounds gross, like raw meat.
Four years ago, we did a taste testing at a local co-op. Our stand was positioned just across from the honey section. We had brought a frame of bees in my traveling observation hive. Many were drawn in and it was fun to interact with the end-user. However, those introverted honey buyers who did not come over looked over the stores honey selection and avoided our local honey and purchased either stuff labeled raw or organic honey from Brazil.
One customer said he would never buy our honey. It was liquid honey. It wasn't raw. I just harvested it two weeks ago!!!
Several more customers asked if our honey was raw. I didn't even know what raw honey was!
So when I got home I did some internet research. I don't cook my honey. I don't filter my honey to remove pollen grains or tiny of wax. I do strain out the drowned bees and chunks of wax. I bottle my Jan-May honey orders come in, so I decrystallize my honey at 100 to 110 degrees (within the biological norm of a hive), never more than 18 hours. I use a heated knife to uncap my honey. So am I raw? ...
I'd love to just bottle most of my honey right away and market it as raw and not worry about crystallized honey (My honey crystallizes with chunky crystals).
Not sure what I'm asking or telling... but my main problem with "raw" honey is that there is no set definition as to what raw honey is. That is there is no USDA (or other agency) definition for me to follow that make me comfortable marketing my honey as raw.
On our jars, we currently state, "we never heat nor filter our honey to remove its natural properties."