Big Island honey goes ‘carbon free’
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One Hawaii business is taking the business of being eco-conscious to the next level.
Besides having its products certified as organic, the Hawaiian Queen Co. on the Big Island is also adding a certified CarbonFree product label to its Royal Hawaiian Honey line.
The certification comes from Carbonfund.org, a nonprofit group based in Maryland that is offering companies the label in exchange for a carbon footprint analysis and the chance to offset it with contributions to its reforestation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency projects.
Distributor Tropical Traders Specialty Foods offers three certified organic honeys which will carry the new label: Hawaiian Christmas Berry, Hawaiian Lehua and Macadamia Nut Blossom.
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First there was the certified organic label. Now there's a certification for being carbon-neutral, and a Big Island honey producer is among the first to jump on that eco-conscious bandwagon.
The Royal Hawaiian Honey Line produced by the Hawaiian Queen Co. of Captain Cook is now carrying the CarbonFree seal to mark the local company's efforts against global warming.
Tropical Traders Specialty Foods of Oakland, Calif., which distributes the honey, has partnered with a Maryland-based nonprofit group called Carbonfund.org to use the new label on the honeys. The first carbon-free-labeled honeys already have been shipped, and will be hitting shelves soon.
Being carbon free, also known as carbon offsetting or being carbon neutral, is the act of reducing the release of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide somewhere in the world in an amount equal to that released while making and transporting products. This is typically done through the purchase of credits sold by organizations, such as forestry groups and wind power producers, whose operations reduce carbon dioxide or produce less than alternatives.
While other food companies, including London-based Today was Fun, offer products that have been carbon offset, Carbonfund.org says Royal Hawaiian Honey is the first U.S. food product to be given its certified CarbonFree seal.
"The reason we decided to do it is that so many of our customers who buy organic are also concerned about buying food that comes from far away," said Rebeca Krones of Tropical Traders. "We decided we would give our customers not only the organic side, but let them know our company cares that there is some shipping involved."
The Royal Hawaiian Honey line includes three certified organic honeys -- Hawaiian Christmas Berry, Hawaiian Lehua and Macadamia Nut Blossom.
Krones is the daughter of Michael Krones, who runs Hawaiian Queen Co. on the Big Island, a second-generation family farm that produces queen bees as well as honey.
Because the honey is made in Hawaii, that means shipping is involved if it is to reach the mainland.
Rebeca Krones and her partner Luis Zevallos distribute and market the honeys out of California, selling through over 100 specialty and natural grocery stores in the country, including Whole Foods Market. In Hawaii, the honeys are sold at numerous locations, including Down to Earth, Star Markets and the Hualalai Resort in Kona.
The CarbonFree certification process takes some time and involves a fee.
Krones said she started the process in April, giving Carbonfund.org scientists as much information as she could so they could calculate its carbon footprint.
Every detail was considered -- from fuel used to pick up honey from the hives to the extraction of silica to manufacture the glass jars, as well as bottling the honey, printing its label, and shipping it from the Big Island to New York City.
Once the carbon footprint is calculated, the company makes a monetary donation to the non-profit to offset it, which goes to renewable energy, energy efficiency or reforestation projects.
Carbonfund.orgworks with over 200 companies and organizations. More information on the CarbonFree designation is available at www.carbonfund.org.