BZZZZZZ Bees Are On My Mind

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I have had this buzzing in my brain for weeks now and finally am taking the time to sit down and let it pour onto the screen.   It has been a long time since I’ve written so be patient with me if I ramble a bit.  I seem to be constantly dragging a little behind my life.

I have watched the results of Monsanto’s court trial with Dwayne Johnson, who was awarded $289 million for Monsanto’s continued claims about the safety of Roundup.  While I know this will be taken through the appeals system and poor Mr. Johnson has little likelihood of surviving long enough to see any cash, it is the first time Monsanto has been held to account for all the slanted, testing and information they rely on to insist their product is safe.

I have been watching closely for years the money and effort they are putting into Europe to get the EU to allow Roundup to be used there.  In Italy Italy’s Ministry of Health placed a number of restrictions on glyphosate use. Italian legislators have also raised concerns about glyphosate safety, and have come out against relicensing the herbicide in the European Union. In 2016, the Italian government banned the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest treatment and placed restrictions on glyphosate use in areas frequented by the public.

Why should we be concerned (other than the risk of cancer for those working around the fields?)   It turns out that Glyphosate kills bees.  Recently two studies proved the effect of the weedkiller on bees.  There were previous studies showing the effect of neonicotinoids, which are also horrible, but these studies show that Glyphosate targets an enzyme only found in plants and bacteria.  This poison is being shown to cause damage to the microbiota that honeybees.  In other words, it is affecting the gut bacteria of the bees.  It also impairs the adult bees to lose the cognitive capacity to return successfully to their hive.   But, the biggest impact has been the destruction of wildflowers on which they depend.  The wide-spread use of Roundup in the environment has unintended consequences.  We are seeing this across the United States.

Monsanto does claims that any effect on bees from Glyphosate are just not true.  Their research for 40 years shows no evidence of risk for humans, animal and the environment in general.

This new study published by the National Academy of Sciences, found that some key beneficial bacteria in the bee’s guts have the enzyme targeted by glyphosate.  Apparently it prevents newly emerged worker bees to develop a normal gut biome.

Professor Dave Goulson, University of Sussex has said “Gut bacteria play a vital role in maintaining good health, in organisms as diverse as bees and humans.  The finding that these bacterial are sensitive to the most widely used pesticide in the world is thus concerning.”

Other researchers Nancy Moran, Erick Motta and Kasie Raymann suggest their findings are evidence that glyphosate might be contributing to colony collapse disorder, which has been wreaking havoc on bees for more than a decade.

I take all this information very seriously.  Without bees, food production world wide is in big trouble.  In fact, it was one of the reasons I searched for as much information as possible when getting honey in Italy.   Actually there are only a few pollution free areas left in the world:  New Zealand, Sicily and Sardinia primarily.  You’ll note, as I did, they are islands, with little industrial pollution.

I have found the most wonderful apiarist who keeps his bees in Sardinia and moves them from field to field to get the most amazing honeys.  There are about 20 different varieties that Stefano supplies me with.  The honey is amazing and the flavors are quite diverse.  I am personally not a fan of corbezzolo (which is strong and rather bitter), but I have clients who insist on it.  While I get the most requests for millefiori, acacia and sunflower, there are so many more choices (and they each can assist with specific weaknesses in the body).

It is one of my goals to be sure I am not bringing anything but the finest possible products back with me.  I deal mostly with individuals and have made some wonderful friends in the process.  Vetralla fields grown fabulous porcini and I would rather get them directly from the farm, than any market.   Honey, I am confident that Stefano has the best, purest honey possible.  (Did you know that in the U.S.  honey can be up to 50% corn syrup and not be labeled as anything but honey?)    While China is the worst offender with honey syrup that is mostly corn syrup, whether you get your honey from me or elsewhere, I would strongly suggest you know the source.  Buy from local bee keeper or know where the bees are and how the honey has been processed.


I apologize for the rant, but my purpose with Expressly Italian is to make people aware of what they are paying for.  Are the products what they say on the label?  Do you know the source?   As there are more and more options for getting our foods, there are more and more opportunities for getting exploited and over-charged at the same time.

Benefits of honey

Spice Booth


I am fully confident in all the spice mixes I get from Mauro Berardi.  Not only does Mauro personally be sure what I get is the freshest of his mixes, but I have been using his products for about 12 years.  He has been in the same location in Campo dei Fiori for three generations with clients who come from all over the world.

I go directly to the frantoio (the olive mill), I watch the olives arrive, they go through the pressing process and are packed there.  I take them directly and if you have never tasted fresh olive oil, it is nothing like what most bottled olive oil tastes like (even those “extra-virgin” labeled bottles).   Much of the imported oils are delivered in huge ships and sit in containers on the docks or warehouses without temperature controls. Olive oil survives for 18 to 24 months if you keep it with cool, dark temperatures and getting as little air as possible.

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I am getting ready for my next shopping trip.  I have to be there when the olives are harvested to get any olio nuovo (the first pressing).