Hemp is a commonly used term to describe members of the Cannabis plant family. Cannabis Sativa is the variety grown for industrial purposes and the Cannabis Indica variety is more commonly associated with recreational and medical use. Although there are physical differences between the two species, the main difference is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinal ) levels, which is classified as a psychoactive drug compound. Cannabis Indica, AKA Marijuana, is bred for a much higher concentration of THC and Industrial Hemp Cannabis Sativa has little to no detectable amounts. For this discussion we are referring to Cannabis Sativa (Industrial Hemp).
Hemp is grown throughout the world as a highly versatile and valuable commodity, but incredibly, it is illegal to grow Hemp in the United States. The U.S. is one of the only industrialized countries in the world where Hemp is illegal to grow and therefore Hemp in the U.S. must be imported. The reasons for such an amazing crop being illegal to grow in this country are highly debated.
The most widely accepted notion is the result of politics, money and power. Many point to William Randolph Hearst, Dupont, and the major Oil Companies at the beginning of the 20th century. Because Hemp was an excellent source of renewable bio fuels this threatened the revenues of Oil Companies and Dupont which held patents to make plastics and fabrics form fossil fuels, not Hemp oils. William Randolph Hearst was a major newspaper tycoon and owned significant land holding for timber production used in his paper mills for his news print. Many feel that Hearst in particular was threatened by Hemp because it was a far better source of fiber for paper than his timber. Hearst waged a nationwide newspaper campaign against Marijuana that ultimately lumped all Cannabis together under one negative spotlight. The result was legislation against Hemp starting with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1937.
Hemp is one of the oldest known domesticated agricultural crops dating back approx. 12,000 years. Throughout history, Hemp has been highly valued by many civilizations for its wide variety of uses as Hemp is one of the fastest growing biomasses known. The two main parts of the plant that are used are the fiber from the plant stalk and the seeds.The fiber is used for paper products, textiles, livestock bedding, and construction. The seeds are used to produce bio fuels, medicines, plastics, food for Humans and livestock.
Hemp seeds are a highly valued Human food commodity rich in oils, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Approximately 44% of Hemp seeds are edible oils of which approx. 80% are essential fatty acids (EFA’s) Omega 3 and 6. Hemp seeds are 33% protein and the protein is considered complete as it contains all 21 amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body. Just one tablespoon of Hemp oil provides the human daily requirements of EFA’s. Hemp is what many would consider a complete food with an extensive nutrient profile.
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw or added to foods such as cereals or yogurt. They can be substituted for other ingredients when baking or cooking. There are protein powders made from Hemp, Hemp milk substitutes, Hemp ice creams, Hemp flour, and cereals with Hemp. Hemp oils are showing up in cosmetics and body care products. There are snacks and protein bars made from Hemp. If you start reading ingredients of Natural Foods products, chances are you will start seeing Hemp.
Hemp is one of Nature’s best and most well rounded foods. Consider Hemp as part of your healthy diet and lifestyle and while you’re at it, consider encouraging your political representatives to legalize this amazing food source and environmentally friendly renewable resource.
Written by DMK of Seven Grains