I suffer from extreme seasonal allergies, which can last from March well into November and are unhelped by allergy medications. I'm also too chicken to give myself immunotherapy shots. So, when I recently heard a story on the news about eating local honey to build up immunity and ease allergy suffering, I thought it sounded great! I decided it would not be any more expensive than buying medicine, and it wouldn't have the possible side effects of drugs, so it was worth the shot.
My next step would be to find some local honey. The news mentioned the Chicago Honey Co-op, so I started with their website. Their honey is reasonably priced, and they'll ship it anywhere. However, they won't let you drop by and pick some up if you live in the area. For me, that wasn't a good deal. So, I kept looking, and I found Sweet Beginning's Beeline Honey. Two things persuaded me to try their honey. Its price is comparable to the other, and in addition to shipping anywhere, they don't mind local pick up. Plus, Sweet Beginnings is part of the North Lawndale Employment Network, which offers transitional jobs to formerly incarcerated individuals and others with significant barriers to employment. They have an impressive impact on the community. Their website boasts that the "recidivism rate for former Sweet Beginnings employees is below 4%, compared to the national average of 65%..."
When I went to pick up my honey, I decided to take the surface streets through the city because it was in the morning, and I didn't want to take the interstate and risk the traffic. Now the North Lawndale neighborhood is not a place you'd want to get stuck. The potholes are large and abundant, and there are numerous people lingering around the streets. I'm not easily scared by rough neigborhoods, but as I drove westward and passed a block with 3 police SUVs and a bunch of people standing around, I thought This isn't a good sign. I decided to take the interstate home when I was finished as well as the next time I pick up honey.
When I walked into the Sweet Beginnings building, it was not what I expected to find. What I did find was hopeful, though. There were a handful of people in the open entry room. A couple were on computers, a few were waiting in chairs. It looked like a small scale employment agency, but I didn't see any honey. A lady making photo copies near the door looked over as I entered, so I spoke to her, "I emailed about picking up honey today." "Oh, yes, come this way." I followed her into the next room that was bustling with activity. One man was filling a box, a few people were busy on a computer, two others were doing something I couldn't really see. The lady said, "This is our bee team. They take care of all the honey and sales." So, I repeated what I had told her, and they instantly knew who I was. One lady when downstairs to retrieve the two jars of honey I had requested while a man grabbed a chair from the other side of the room and offered me a place to sit with Bumble. Bumble took my money, and when the lady returned with my honey, she paid. Then, everyone in the room said goodbye as we left.
I felt good about a purchase that I hope will help me, but I know is helping others. If you like honey (or honey infused body care products), this is a company worth supporting.