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Meet Jamie Woodrum of Humble Honee

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Woodrum. 

Hi Jamie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
My name is Jamie Woodrum and I am the founder of Humble Honee, a vegan and bee-free alternative. 

Graduating from college is a weird enough transition from idling in a state of pseudo adulthood to being thrown into society as a supposedly “fully functioning” adult. During my final semester at the University of Florida in spring of 2020, COVID-19 spread across the world and sent my future plans spiraling. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and found myself in a standstill. Graduate school decisions were uncertain, internships were canceled, and life as a stressed-out college student was no longer my reality. 

My vegan journey officially started in September of 2018. The hard part was realizing that so many things that I had been taught throughout my life were a lie. In any industry where a living being is viewed as a commodity, exploitation is guaranteed to occur. That is why the day I went vegan; I became an activist. I developed a deeply rooted passion for being a voice for the voiceless, regardless of the seemingly crazy persona that was bound to develop in the eyes of my friends and family. Surely, someone could understand the cruelty behind killing a cuddly cow. But what about taking advantage of a bee whose assistance in our food system is vastly undermined? 

I started building my vegan portfolio by becoming president of the Student Animal Alliance at UF. Members and I were able to raise awareness on campus about the ugly truths behind various animal agriculture industries. From meat to dairy, to wool, all of these industries have voiceless victims. I started helping with social media at Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary in Gainesville, Florida, and worked my way up to become the Vice President. We are now proud to be the largest cow sanctuary in the United States. 

Through all of my activism, I discovered a species that was often overlooked when advocating animal rights. Bees. I had always searched for a bee-free alternative to honey, but I was never able to find one. Previously, rigorous college courses were my biggest obstacles, so I had always suppressed the thought of creating an alternative myself until May of 2020, when I finally, for once in my life, had too much time on my hands. After graduation, I was working part-time at the Dunedin Vegan Deli and told the owner, Jamey Harper, “I want to start my own business.” Given my background in biochemistry, I had no formal business training. Jamey was there to coach me through everything and helped me turn my vision into a reality. I knew I wanted my business to have a positive impact. Pollinators play a vital role in life as we know it. In fact, one out of every three bites of food comes from a source pollinated by bees and other pollinators. So, stealing a honey bee’s food source (honey) seemed cruel. 

I always say, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” So that is exactly what I did. In my first two months of business, I was in 11 stores across the country. The vegan community is tight-knit and understands the moral compass behind the purchase of products. Conscious consumers want to support businesses that are cruelty-free and have a positive impact on animals and the environment, which is the primary driving force of Humble Honee. Humble Honee is currently being used by several other companies, including Honee-baked “Hamm” at the Dunedin Vegan Deli (and their other locations), peanut butter by The Nutty Peanut, and a sugar scrub by Beautifyourself. Moving forward, I would love to create other products for my collection. My next goal is to create a spicy honee, lip balm, and earrings. Currently, I sell my product in select physical stores (locations found on my website), various vegan markets, and online on my website. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The hardest part of getting started is… getting started! Given my science background, I was familiar with mixing chemicals in a lab to isolate compounds that could prevent cancer. I was comfortable with changing a soil’s pH levels to understand the effects that the environment has on a plant’s root morphology. What I hadn’t done before was formulate a recipe, graphic design, website creation, and marketing; although understanding the chemical properties of sugar in solution was actually quite helpful in creating a recipe from scratch. With Jamey’s help, I was able to file for an LLC, which seemed to be the hard part at the time. However, once the ball got rolling, I realized I had to actually make this sticky honey alternative, batch-by-batch. I spent hours at the commercial kitchen creating the product, including many sleepless nights that kept me saying “come on, just finish one more batch” until 3 am. Since the chemical properties are largely determined by composition and temperature, everything had to be just right for the consistency to turn out perfectly. 

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Since Humble Honee is not actually made by bees, what is it made from? The four ingredients are cane juice, cane sugar, chamomile, and lemon juice. One thing that I made sure of was to keep the sugar content exactly the same as traditional, bee-created honey. A lot of people tout the “medicinal” properties of traditional honey, although many have not been scientifically proven. What people fail to realize is that a single bee only makes 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey during their entire lifetime. Bees are notorious for being hard workers, sometimes traveling up to five miles while consuming nectar and collecting pollen on their feet. The nectar is stored in their honey stomach and flown back to the hive. Proteins and digestive enzymes in their stomach convert the nectar into honey. This process must be repeated multiple times, so the bee regurgitates the honey into another bee’s mouth, who repeats the process. This happens again… and again… and again… until the final product is placed into a honeycomb. More information about the truth behind the honey industry can be found on my website. 

Humble Honee allows consumers to enjoy this delicious product without stressing an entire ecosystem. The only busy bee that has to be hard at work is… me! I am proud to be able to supply a cruelty-free product for all to enjoy. This includes pregnant women and infants, who cannot consume bee-created honey because of the risk of botulism. This is a type of food poisoning caused by toxins produced by bacteria. As confirmed by the FDA, Humble Honee has no such concern. 

I am currently in the works of setting up something called the Humble Bee Project, which will set up bee micro-sanctuaries at vegan farm sanctuaries. Not only do I want to protect bees’ food source, I also want to set up environments in which they can thrive without damaging human intervention. Once this is up and running, a portion of the profits will go towards funding these efforts. The first micro-sanctuary was set up at Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary, in Gainesville, Florida. After setting up the bee hotel, native bees moved in and laid eggs that ended up hatching. Hopefully beginning next spring, there will be Humble Honee sanctuaries all across the United States! 

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
As cliché as it sounds, I strive to leave this world a better place than I found it. I am thankful enough to have been connected with an organization that allows me to do just that. Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit that was founded in 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. I am proud to have joined the team as social media director in February of 2019 and worked my way up to vice president in July of 2020. The driving mission is “to promote compassion for farm animals through rescue and education.” Farm animals have little to no rights. Things that would be unimaginable if done to a dog or cat are completely legal and even supported if done to a cow, pig, chicken, etc. This is because we have been taught from a young age that these animals are commodities and are here to serve us. For this reason, it is legal to brand these animals with hot irons, cut off their tails and teeth without anesthesia, artificially inseminate the females and steal their babies away so that humans can harvest their milk, consume these animals and their byproducts, and even use these sentient beings for live animal sacrifices. 

Critter Creek is the largest cow sanctuary in the United States with just shy of 150 cows. There are two locations with a combined total of over 4oo acres of pastures and wildlife preserve. In addition to providing a safe haven for cows, we also house ten donkeys, 20 pigs, three turkeys, 12 horses, a bison, and a water buffalo. We always say that we wish we did not have to exist because that would mean that these animals would not need rescuing. Naturally, we do not believe in consuming our residents or their byproducts, so our board members are all vegan. While this is a lifestyle that we subtly suggest that our followers adopt, we often do not have to come out and blatantly say it. That is because the animals are their own best advocates. We share their stories and the scary fate that they could have had, prior to being brought to our sanctuary. 

I am lucky enough to get to spend much of my free time with these rescued animals. Seeing the life in their eyes is truly rewarding on its own. You can tell that these animals are sentient creatures with a will to live, much like you or I may have. I am able to see friendships form, mothers adopt orphaned babies, and bonds that flourish among families who are finally allowed to remain together. We are here to serve them because up until this point, they have had pasts that are unimaginably cruel. At the end of the day, we just want people to understand that these animals are here with us, not for us. Whenever someone tells me that I played a role in their transition to veganism, my heart is truly happy. 

Pricing:

  • Humble Honee 4oz Bottle- $8.99
  • Humble Honee Sticker- $0.99
  • Burlap Flower Bag- $0.99

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