Hemp: Friend or Foe?

By Katarina Smythe

I got curious about hemp when hemp seeds came up on my ‘Foods to Eat’ list as a 5 smiley food. I started doing a little research about hemp as food and where I might be able to buy it and the more I read, the more interested I became, due to it high nutritional content. I am going to try to incorporate hemp seeds into my diet and will keep my eye out for all the other hemp uses. It certainly is a fascinating plant.

Most of us know what Marijuana is. It’s a plant that, when smoked or ingested, makes you ‘high’. It is a drug and has been illegal for as long as most of us can remember. In modern times, the growing, selling, and using of Marijuana has been prohibited, but historically it was a widely farmed plant with many fantastic uses. Throughout history Hemp has been used for many things by the Chinese, Indians, Europeans and many Asian cultures, that didn’t include getting high, and its use can be dated back to the stone age.

Now, just to clarify – Marijuana, Cannabis and Hemp all refer to the same plant. Just like any other plant, there are different varieties of Hemp and it is only the ones with high amounts of THC that make you ‘high’ when smoked or ingested. All other Hemp grown as a crop has very low amounts of THC or none at all. It is this Hemp that is incredibly versatile and useful in a surprising number of ways. Some of the alternative uses for Hemp include:

  • Food and Nutrition – Despite being treated as a non-food product by some governments, the Hemp seed is safe to eat and incredibly versatile. It is rich in protein, calcium, iron, and omega-3 and can be made into oil, powder, milk and other things
  • Building Materials – Hemp can be used as a substitute for concrete, plastic, wallboard, and insulation and is more sustainable than timber.
  • Fuel – biodiesel or biofuel can be a bi-product of Hemp cultivation.
  • Clothing, Paper, and Other Fibers – Hemp has been used for textiles, paper, rope, carpet, nets, and many other things for thousands of years. It is strong, durable and unaffected by water.

These are just some of the potential uses for hemp. Every single part of the plant can be used for something and it is a resilient and sustainable crop.

Have hemp seed, milk or oil come up in your ‘Foods to Eat’ list? How do you incorporate them into your diet? Have you come across any of the above mentioned uses of Hemp? We would love to hear about it!

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Diana Anderson

Author: Diana Anderson

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