Hemp is one of the faster growing biomasses known, producing up to 25 tonnes of dry matter per hectare per year. Hemp is very environmentally friendly as it requires few pesticides and no herbicides. It has been called a carbon-negative raw material.
|Hemcrete brick. Hemcrete carbon neutral; it’s actually carbon negative. CO2 from the atmosphere is trapped in the hemp plants as they grow, and remains there after the plants are harvested.|
Hemp is used for a wide variety of purposes including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, durable clothing and nutritional products. The bast fibers can be used in 100% hemp products, but are commonly blended with other organic fibers such as flax, cotton or silk, for apparel and furnishings, most commonly at a 55%/45% hemp/cotton blend.
Hemp has an incredible nutritional profile that can help people fill some holes in their diet,” says Ashley Koff, a registered dietician who’s partial to the healthy benefits of hemp:
–Hemp is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids—which our bodies can’t make and we must get in food, including the elusive GLA (gamma-linolenic acid).
-It contains important nutrients like iron, magnesium, and vitamin E.
-Hemp is a complete protein, meaning it can provide your body with all of the essential amino acids, a definite plus for vegetarians and vegans. “Having more whole-food, complete-protein options means you don’t have to rely as much on a protein bar,” says Koff.
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted, made into hemp milk (akin to soy milk), prepared as tea, and used in baking. The fresh leaves can also be consumed in salads. Products include cereals, frozen waffles, hemp tofu, and nut butters. A few companies produce value added hemp seed items that include the seed oils, whole hemp grain (which is sterilized by law in the United States, where they import it from China and Canada). Hemp is also used in some organic cereals, for non-dairy milk somewhat similar to soy and nut milks, and for non-dairy hemp "ice cream."
In the17th Century America, farmers in Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut were ordered by law to grow Indian hemp. By the early 18th century, a person could be sentenced to jail if they weren’t growing hemp on their land! Hemp was considered to be legal tender. For over 200 years in colonial America, hemp was currency that one could use to pay their taxes with!
The 1850 U.S. census documented approximately 8,400 hemp plantations of at least 2000 acres.
Viewing hemp as a threat, a smear campaign against hemp was started by competing industries, associating hemp with marijuana.
Propaganda films like “Reefer Madness” assured hemp’s demise.
When Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, the decline of hemp effectively began. The tax and licensing regulations of the act made hemp cultivation nearly impossible for American farmers. Anslinger, the chief promoter of the Tax Act, argued for anti-marijuana legislation around the world.
An interesting situation arose during World War II as American Farmers were prohibited from producing hemp because of the 1937 law. However, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor halted the importation of Manila hemp from the Philippines, prompting the USDA to rethink their agenda and creating a call to action with the release of the film Hemp for Victory, motivating American Farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. The government formed a private company called War Hemp Industries to subsidize hemp cultivation. One million acres of hemp were grown across the Midwest as part of this program. As soon as the war ended, all of the hemp processing plants were shut down and the industry again disappeared. However, wild hemp may be found scattered across the country.
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