Bruce, SD | March 8, 2022 – The topic of food fraud brought together a group of West Central students for the state FFA competition as they took a deep dive into the honey industry. The students were intrigued by the statistics they found and wanted to raise awareness on the topic by presenting the issue from a variety of perspectives. Those viewpoints showcased the pros and cons from the following:  an economist, honey packer, beekeeper, a supermarket, nutritionist and a parent concerned about what they fed their child. The goal was to paint the entire picture for their audience through the different angles.

The group spent many weeks researching and found that honey is consistently rated as one of the top 5 most fraudulent foods. One student said, “I never knew that honey fraud was a thing until we started the project. My teammate and I found the topic of fraudulent honey so interesting that we decided to do our Agriscience Fair project over honey fraud as well.”

In preparation for the state competition, the group did a mock presentation to Adee Honey Farms (AHF). This gave the students an opportunity to speak with several AHF family members and learn about the topic from commercial beekeepers. “I didn’t know that one of the largest honey producers in the country was located in our state of South Dakota. It was great to hear their experiences firsthand,” a group member expressed their excitement.

Adee Honey Farms was impressed with the information that was collected and was thrilled to hear about the ever-increasing awareness of fraudulent honey. Kelvin Adee commented, “We have been dealing with fraudulent honey challenges for many years. As a past president of the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA), we do our best to educate the consumer on these issues, so it has been great to hear the increased awareness and interest in how food is produced and where it comes from.”

The students’ presentation caught the attention of AHF as well as the judges for the state competition, which scored them with a first-place award. The West Central team won the state Ag Issues contest and earned a berth to the national contest which will be held in October in Indianapolis in conjunction with the National FFA Convention. However, the presentation did not stop there. As a top scoring team, they also shared their information with South Dakota legislators and representatives within the Ag Committee.

The audio of the presentation can be found here (Fast forward to about 1:45): https://sdpb.sd.gov/sdpbpodcast/2022/hag21.mp3

Photos courtesy of Linda Peterson