What is Hemp?
Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a strain of the Cannabis Sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its products. Although Cannabis and Hemp are derived from the same species Cannabis Sativa, the strains grown for industrial use contain lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of CBD which decreases and eliminates the psychoactive effects- thus making it legal to grow. It is one of the fastest growing plants (needing only 3-4 months to reach maturity) and was one of the first plants to be spun into a usable fiber 10,000 years ago. Hemp is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel. The vast fibers can be used to make textiles that are 100% hemp, but they are usually blended with other fibers (flax, cotton or silk, as well as virgin and recycled polyester) to make woven fabrics for apparel and furnishings. The inner two fibers of the plant are woodier and typically have industrial applications, such as mulch, animal bedding, and litter. When oxidized, hemp oil from the seeds becomes solid and can be used in the manufacture of oil-based paints, in creams as a moisturizing agent, for cooking, and in plastics. In some countries, Hemp seeds have also been used in bird feed mix.
Why grow hemp?
It is a natural fiber that’s cultivated with a low environmental impact. It has a short maturation period compared to other materials, so we can grow more in less time. It requires little to no irrigation and uses less fertilizer than other crops. The cultivation of hemp requires no synthetic fertilizer, plus it replenishes vital nutrients and prevents erosion. Hemp returns up to 60% of the nutrients it takes from the soil, when it is dried in the field. It was reported in Kentucky that hemp was grown on the same land for 14 consecutive years without soil depletion or reduction in yield.
Hemp is an annual broadleaf plant with a taproot, and generally requires 110 days for its growth and should receive around 10-12 inches (25.4-30.5 cm) of rainfall throughout the growing season. Hemp can demonstrate adaptations to a variety of soil moisture conditions. In some soils the taproot may penetrate 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) deep. Science has shown that the current rates of population growth and irresponsible farming methods have set us up to potentially lose all of our topsoil by 2076. Hemp can help keep healthy soil in place at a time we need it the most. By replacing usual products with Hemp, we are supporting a healthier planet.
History of Hemp in Canada:
· 1606: The very first Canadian hemp crop was planted in Port Royal, Arcadia (now known as Nova Scotia) by Louis Hebert, a French botanist.
· Early 1800s: Hemp seeds were given to Canadian farmers, which were distributed by Upper Canada’s Lieutenant Governor to help boost the hemp industry.
· 1928: The House of Commons attempt to inspire Canadian farmers to grow hemp.
· 1938: According to the Regina Leader-Post, this was the year when “hemp production was outlawed under the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act. Governments around the world were trying to stop the abuse of [THC] and other controlled substances, and hemp was misguidedly included.”
· 1961: Hemp was considered illegal after WWII; however, in 1961, Health Canada allowed a certain amount of hemp to be used for scientific reasons.
· 1980s-1990s: A demand in Canada was noticed for new sources of fiber. A large interest in hemp piqued the Canadian agricultural industry, which helped generate many new jobs.
· 1994-1998: Scientific research proves that hemp can be grown independently from marijuana (cannabis).
1998: The first license in Canada was issued to grow commercial industrial hemp.
Hemp as food:
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, ground into hemp meal, sprouted or made into dried sprout powder. Hemp seeds can also be made into a liquid and used for baking or for beverages such as hemp milk. They are a high source of protein (perfect for adding to baking and smoothies for a nutty flavor!) and are a popular vegan choice. Hemp oil is cold-pressed from the seed and is high in unsaturated fatty acids. The leaves of the hemp plant are not as nutritional as the seeds however they are edible and can be consumed raw as a replacement or addition to your leafy greens, and can also be a beneficial smoothie addition when pressed to make juice.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a 2-tablespoon serving of hemp seeds weighing 20 grams (g) contains:
· 111 calories.
· 6.31 g of protein.
· 9.75 g of fat.
· 1.73 g of carbohydrates (including 0.8 g of fiber and 0.3 g of sugar)
· 14 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
· 1.59 mg of iron.
· 140 mg of magnesium.
· 330 mg of phosphorus.
Hemp hearts come out on top when compared to Flax and Chia seeds!