I'm still struggling to get my head around the idea that jam will be the great British export that saves us after Brexit, especially as much of the EU seems to export more than we do. But on the theme of things to spread on toast, what about honey? What could be more natural?
Last weekend I ventured outside my ten mile radius. I crossed the border in to Cheshire somewhere near Holmes Chapel. I didn't need a passport but there were long queues tailing back down the M6, so a taste of what is to come at ports. Our destination was the first race in this season's North Staffs cross country league. I know, I know. North Staffs league and the race is in Cheshire!
Well as you can expect there were a lot of runners and some rain and then lots of mud, but there was also a bloke selling his honey. We've seen him at other races in the past, but this time we decided to investigate. The labels on the traditional style pots proudly proclaimed: Staffordshire Honey. "We can buy some, its from Staffordshire," I joked with my husband and quick as a flash the seller (and most likely producer) responded, "Yes, this is real Staffordshire honey, genuine export to Cheshire."
"In that case we'll buy some and boost the export sales for Staffordshire. I don't suppose it matters we will be taking it back across the border." The transaction was done.
But can we make an export success of honey? What is the future for honey? My sister keeps bees and before her my dad was also a bee keeper for many years. Unfortunately this year she lost several of her hives. Apparently the bees died quite quickly and there was no sign of any of the typical diseases. My dad wonders whether they were poisoned. Had they been foraging in an area recently sprayed? Were they victims of insecticide sprays? We don't know, but it does seem certain that bee populations are currently in steep decline.
This doesn't bode well for basing the UK's export success on honey. But then there will also be a knock on effect on jam, which, and I'm assuming we are talking High Quality British Jam made with real British fruit picked by the newly recruited British fruit pickers, will require fruit, which in turn requires pollinated fruit flowers. And bees are quite famous for their contribution to pollination.
Someone needs to start some joined up thinking. If one of the irritations of EU membership is that they are trying to ban pesticides, making life more difficult for farmers and less profitable for chemical companies, and after Brexit we will be free of that red tape, what might it mean for the bees, and the jam industry.
Food for thought. We'll enjoy eating the Staffordshire Honey while it lasts, and who knows we may buy another pot from the race at Stafford Common.
In the meantime. Here are some pictures of bees in our garden last Summer.