A few things you may not know about hemp
In honor of Hemp History Week (June 1-7), here we examine hemp’s storied past—and why you should incorporate this important crop into your life.
A growing health trend, hemp has estimated retail sales of $500 million dollars in the U.S., according to the coordinators of Hemp History Week. However, the plant is still prohibited from being grown on industrial farms in America. The U.S. is one of very few industrialized countries in the world that still prohibits hemp farming.
America has a deep history with this controversial crop. In the 1700s, the law actually required colonial farmers in Virginia to grow hempseed. Because of the crop's health benefits and wide variety of practical applications, Thomas Jefferson declared hemp was of “greatest importance to our nation.” In 1776, the founding fathers drafted the Constitution on hemp paper. Henry Ford used hemp to build an experimental car body which proved stronger than steel.
Then, in 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act defined hemp as a narcotic—despite the fact that it contains trace (barely detectable) amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Since then, farmers in the United States have not been able to grow hemp without a DEA permit.
Hemp is healthyHemp seed is high in easily digestible protein, healthy omega fatty acids, and is naturally gluten free. The seed has a nutty taste, making it a tasty addition to breads, smoothies, granolas, and salads. The seed is also very high in vitamin E, an important nutrient for skin and hair health.
A 2014 University of Seville study found hempseed oil contains sterols, aliphaticlcohols and linolenic acids, which can lower cholestorol and are packed essential omega-3 fatty acids. Abundant in a-linolenic acid, an omega-3, hemp may also stave off coronary heart disease. The researchers believe these findings may significantly influence the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries.
The versatility of hempHemp can also be used in industries other than food. According to Lauren Stansbury, coordinator of Hemp History Week, Hemp is used in the “interior panels of automobile doors, in ‘hempcrete,’ a sustainable building material for green homes, in batteries, and in automobile production." The Lotus car is made from hemp bio composites. Hemp is also used in the clothing industry. It requires less pesticides and herbicides than cotton does, which is one of the most chemical-intensive crops used for textiles.
To celebrate Hemp History Week, check out these delicious hemp-filled recipes. Over 1,400 retailer events and 300 grassroots events are taking place this week to raise awareness of the benefits of hemp in the United States. Find out which events are happening near you and how you can get involved with the campaign to lift national bans on hemp and reap its benefits for people and the planet.