The state and federal government have a long list of things they want to prevent you from eating. They don’t seem to care that the poultry supply is awash in salmonella, or that animals for human consumption are raised in sadistic ways, and pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.
They are, however, very concerned that you might bring some raw milk cheese across the Canadian border, or sneak in one of the dozens of prohibited pork products from Italy. Join me in singing, “Uncle Sam don’t want no lardo eatin’ round here…”
A couple of years ago, after attending a cheese social in Jimmy’s #43, I met a guy who, against all odds, kept bees in a South Bronx community garden in his spare time, while also working at an adjacent church. Roger Repohl pools his honey by season, so that the late autumn honey is dark with wildflowers, while the clover honey of early summer is a lemony orange, and much lighter tasting.
At the cheese shindig, I also enjoyed some honey that had been made on the roof of an East Village tenement. In fact, there seems to be no barrier to producing excellent honey in the city, and, according to Repohl, bees prefer the flowers that grow along the highways of the Bronx to what they can get in the community gardens.
The only thing that keeps urban honey from being a more major phenomenon is…the city government. The New York City Health Code prohibits honey making in the city, and goes on to condemn the honeybee as a “venomous insect.” Their thinking is positively medieval.
If you’d like to affirm your support of city honeybees, please join me in signing this petition at the Just Foods website.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 18, 2008