For me, the continued U.S. ban on growing hemp as a commercial crop is another one of those rather embarrassing national quirks that makes me wonder, “What’s up with us?!” (Or rather, our government—always a convenient bogeyman.)
This week, May 2–8, manufacturers, retailers, and health gurus are gathering forces to do something about this wrong-headed ban. It’s the 2nd Annual Hemp History Week, sponsored by Manitoba Harvest (whose cofounder, Mike Fata, pioneered hemp legalization in Canada, which took effect in 1998), Nutiva, Nature’s Path, Dr. Bronner, Sequel, as well as health celebs like Dr. Andrew Weil and Alicia Silverstone. Retail partners such as Whole Foods, Mother’s, and Fred Meyer will be holding hemp-related events this week, along with events at local farmer’s markets and more. To find an event near you, go here. To sign a petition or get involved, go here.
The goal is to educate consumers about the nutritional, environmental, and economic benefits of hemp, and to advocate for policy change, so U.S. farmers can once again grow this profitable, sustainable, traditional crop.
A few things you may not know about hemp:
- The oilseed and fiber (industrial) varieties of the species Cannabis sativa L. has NO drug value and little to no measurable amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive in “pot.”
- The small, nutty tasting seeds are ridiculously healthy—packed with a unique balance of omega-3 essential fatty acids, plant-based protein, fiber, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron.
- Hempseeds are great sprinkled on oatmeal, yogurt, salads—and are used to make hemp milk, protein powder, granola, and more. (And unlike flaxseeds, they don’t need refrigerating or grinding before eating.)
- Omega 3- and vitamin E-rich hemp oil can be used in cooking, and is a popular emollient ingredient in natural personal care products.
- Fast-growing hemp crops can be grown without pesticides!!! (Compare this to cotton, which accounts for nearly 25 percent of all pesticide use.)
- Strong hemp fiber can be used to make sustainable clothing, paper, and even homes and car components.
- Farmers net an average of $200–$400 per acre for hemp crops, compared to $50 or less for (government-subsidized) soy and corn.