Hemp is a word that may get some of you thinking back to the days of the Grateful Dead…or some of you may be scratching your heads wondering why we would be highlighting this superfood as something commonly misunderstood as marijuana. While both hemp and marijuana belong to the same plant species, they belong to a different subspecies. Hemp is bred to maximize fiber, seed, and/or oil, while marijuana varieties seek to maximize THC (the psychoactive substance that makes marijuana an illegal drug in the Western world). Hemp actually belongs to the same family of plants as mulberry, which is known for its ability to survive nearly every climate on Earth. Even better, hemp does not require any of the pesticides or herbicides that are used to keep weak plants alive. The best part of the hemp plant is that it produces a tasty (rich nutty flavor) superfood as a seed.
A brief history of hemp is that its production is probably the oldest industry on the planet, going back more than ten thousand years. The oldest relic of human industry is a piece of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8000 BC. Hemp has played a vital role in agriculture and culture – especially in America. The “hamp” place name (New Hampshire, Hampstead, Hampton, etc.) references locations where hemp was once grown. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp on their farms and Ben Franklin owned a hemp paper mill. Hemp continued as a massive agricultural crop in North America until the late 1930s. (SOURCE: “Superfoods” by David Wolfe). So…. Why isn’t hemp as readily used today? A long story short, there was a bunch of political and lobbying hoop-la that occurred in the early 1930s when the media giant Hearst (in coalition with DuPont Corporation) led a crusade to ban hemp because the two companies found a more profitable way to produce paper using trees rather than the widely-used hemp plant at the time. Hemp was incorrectly classified as marijuana as banned in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act (hemp production briefly resumed during WWII when its resources were needed for the war efforts). As a result, the hemp plant and all of its glory has been sheltered since, but is quickly making a comeback due to its resourcefulness (and the fact that people are aware that it’s NOT the same as THC-containing marijuana).
The hemp plant is extremely useful – all parts of the plant can be used. In fact, hemp can be used to make virtually anything that is currently made of cotton, timber, or petroleum. Getting into the health benefits of hemp, here is a complete run-down of why you should consider incorporating hemp into your daily dietary regime (SOURCE: “Superfoods” by David Wolfe). Warning: You’ll probably want to run out right away and get a bag of hempseeds after you learn how incredibly good they are for the human body:
WHERE TO FIND/HOW TO USE HEMP:
OK, so I barraged you enough with happy hemp facts and why hempseeds are sooooo good for you. Some of you are probably still wondering if eating hempseeds is a concern with the whole “marijuana” concept. No, you won’t get high from eating hemp seeds (well, high on health, maybe….hah…hah…hah….one thing hemp seeds don’t do are cure bad humor, sorry). Just keep note of a few things:
- To be imported into the U.S., hempseed must be cracked out of their shells (due to the strict hemp agriculture laws). You can easily find hemp seeds in many stores across the U.S. now – many grocery stores carry them, especially Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and any health store. You can even buy them online.
- There are many hemp seed products out there: shelled hempseeds (for eating), hempseed protein, hempseed cold-pressed oil, hempseed butter, raw hempseed energy bars (many of which come in chocolate varieties…yum), raw hempseed ice cream, hempseed milk (a great non-dairy alternative), hempseed salad dressing, hempseed breads, and hempseed body care products.
- Hempseed protein powder is a great alternative to milk-based protein powders!! My husband has been using hemp protein powder in his smoothies and after workouts rather than the overly-processed isolated milk-based protein powders. I even use the hemp protein powder to add to baking recipes and raw snack recipes. Trader Joe’s sells a great hemp protein powder (in addition to other health stores, or online).
- Hempseeds are great eaten alone or as a snack. They go well sprinkled on salads and they add a richness and flavor to smoothies and salad dressings.
Here are a few recipes to try:
Blend all ingredients in a blender and filter through a strainer, nut-milk bag, or other fine-mesh bag.
Add 1-3 tablespoons of a sweetener if you wish (raw honey [not if using for young children], agave nectar, or stevia). Optional: add berries, peaches, and/or papaya.
Add hemp milk to your smoothie or shake, your morning cereal, or to coffee/tea. You can also drink hemp milk straight and many people find it a better alternative to dairy, especially those with dairy intolerances or sensitivities. From experience, I find hemp milk to be the creamiest and richest of the nut/seed milks.
Add hempseeds to your morning smoothies or shakes. These tend to taste better when added to a smoothie base of frozen bananas and coconut milk and/or oil.
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Here are some other great sources for hempseed recipes: