Well, we wrote about psychedelic honey, so we thought we’d write about hemp, just to go along with that theme! Hah!
Hemp is gaining traction in a couple states out here in the West as a cash crop. Bills that would allow farmers to cultivate hemp are making their way through Oregon and Washington legislatures.
First, I’m sure many of you are wondering exactly what hemp is. Isn’t it like weed or something? It’s close! The hemp plant is in the same plant family as marijuana, but has much lower levels of THC. Hemp is a very useful plant, and has been used for thousands of years to make paper, rope, textiles, and more recently, biodegradable plastics and construction blocks. The seeds and resin of the hemp plant are also used in food products, bird seed and animal food, and to make oil and wax. A very versatile plant!
Nutrition-wise, hemp is high in protein, various amino acids, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals. Hemp seeds, if you can get them, can be mixed into all sorts of different foods, like smoothies, salads, breads, etc. Hemp oil for cooking, hemp beer, and hemp milk are also other edible hemp products.
The main strength of hemp lies not in its edible value, but in the huge, diverse array of useful by-products that come from the plant. The inner stalk of the plant is very fibrous, and makes excellent canvas (that word actually came from the Latin cannabis), rope, clothing, paper, and more. Hemp that is currently cultivated for use is a very poor producer of THC. The fiber content of these strains is 30-40% of the plant, and their THC content is less than 0.2%.
Hemp could be a valuable crop for American farmers, and could help to open up new industry to process the plant. It will be interesting to see if these bills pass, and if hemp farming gains a foothold here in the U.S.
Here are a couple more sources where you can learn more about hemp: