food for thought

On Earth Day, a local beekeeper shares his vision for the future

Tim Brod of Highland Honey Bees is an environmentalist and a devoted beekeeper based in Longmont, CO. During this time of change and uncertainty, Tim encourages us to take some time to think about our interconnectedness, our connection to the planet, and the choices we will make in the future.

On my perfect day, I would wake early in the morning with the light just cracking over the horizon, a grin on my face, responding to the sounds of birds, bumblebees and other insects just as I remember in my youth.

As I start my day at work, the strength of my beehives would overwhelm me. It would be like the halcyon beekeeping years had returned, indicative of resiliency, health and abundance. The questions, “How are your bees doing? Are they still dying?” would be foreign to me, on my perfect day.” 

Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, with almost 8 billion humans on this planet, the degradation of the natural world is close to a critical tipping point.

On my perfect day, we citizens of the world would frequently ask ourselves how our human ecology contributes to environmental awareness and sustainability. It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that our individual actions aren’t powerful. In fact, social forces such as population, urbanization, globalization and consumer societal pressures, constantly stress our environment and undermine ecological security. 

In spite of this, I choose to believe, as I do on my perfect day, that tipping points in world ecology will inspire humans to make progressive, purposeful change.

The decline of bees is one tipping point. Worldwide pollinator decline is our opportunity to wake up—and eat the honey. It’s our opportunity to support and make changes. Overall insect decline is an indicator that agricultural systems and consumer values are out of control. The root causes of pollinator deaths are an ugly triad: disease, lack of nutrition and pesticides. In our quest for perfect fruit and vegetables, our cult of perfection and our cosmetic standards are killing us.

On my perfect day, citizens would embrace simple environmental acts to support habitat restoration. I would notice that the majority of lawns, residential and commercial, are gone; replaced by native meadow plants and flora rich in food and habitat for our insects. Did you know that there are more than 900 species of bee in Colorado alone? On my perfect day, pesticides and herbicides are not sold over the counter, but rather from behind locked doors. In fact, on my perfect day ALL neonicotinoids would be banned.

On my perfect day, I would see row upon row of home gardens and grocery shelves of pesticide-free foods, available to all people, not just the wealthy. On my perfect day, we Americans will have reclaimed our health.  According to the CDC, 100 million Americans suffer from diabetes or prediabetes.  We’ve sacrificed real food, and the accurate labeling of that food, in pursuit of a nutritional ideology that says processed foods with additives are “real foods.” This misdirection in our food systems, and our disconnection from the soil and the land, has paved the way for our current ecological tipping point.

On my perfect day, all people would know what real honey is. Honey is a gift, and it’s becoming a rare commodity in today’s world. Today, three-quarters of the honey sold in this country is imported, with little to no oversight of the importation process or the honey production. Both domesticated and imported honey is heated too highly; solely for the purpose of making it easier to jar and keep it from crystallizing. By doing so, we sacrifice both flavor and nutritional benefits. Very little honey available in the U.S. today is raw, natural or unfiltered, despite what labels say.

On my perfect day, people would experience themselves as part of the world system. This connectedness would breed personal accountability and correlate with conscious choices that support the individual, the family, the community and our planet’s entire ecosystem. 

On my perfect day, all citizens would protect and promote diverse habitat and know that their individual actions impact the whole world.

Throw a pebble into the pool of change and make ripples. Know that you are important.

Tim offers delicious honey products, beekeeping services, and even pollination to urban farms. Visit Highland Honey Bees to learn more about Tim and his offerings.

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