Hemp 101

Hemp is a Superfood… in fact, a Super Plant.

We’re very giddy that you’re as interested about hemp as we are.  Hopefully, you will be a little more ‘hempducated’ after learning a few more interesting facts and the many benefits on this amazing and versatile plant.

 

Farm and Plant 

Here’s a fun fact: hemp is actually a fruit. Who knew? Hemp seeds are categorized as an “achene”, a one seeded fruit with an inner “nut” protected by a hard outer shell. While it is in the cannabis sativa family, hemp actually has no psychoactive properties unlike its relatives. It is one of the most essential nutrient dense and balanced foods available on our planet.   

From this tiny seed, they provide an excellent, easily digestible plant-based source of protein and balanced good fats for our health. Once removed from the shell, the nutritional nut or heart can be eaten raw or pressed to create hemp oil or hemp protein powder.

                                              

So why is HEMP considered to be the perfect food?

Oh my, where do we start?

  • For starters, hemp is easy to digest: unlike many grains, legumes and nuts, hemp contains no enzyme inhibitors, and the seeds do not need to be soaked or sprouted before being consumed in order to get their full nutritional benefit.
  • Hemp is loaded with Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs): EFAs are called “essential” because they are necessary for many metabolic processes, and are not produced by our bodies. For those who have a nutrition text book handy, the two fatty acids essential for humans are alpha-linolenic acid (more commonly known as Omega-3 fatty acid), and linoleic acid (Omega-6 fatty acid). Hemp is not only an excellent source of these two EFAs, but it also provides them in an ideal ratio of 3:1 for Omega-6 to Omega-3 for our body.

Ratio Chart

  • Essential Amino Acids: our bodies consist of about 75% protein, and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Essential amino acids are those which our bodies are not capable of making and which must come from our food. Hemp seeds contain all 10 of the essential amino acids including those that children require, and significant quantities of non-essential amino acids that are also nutritionally important.  So please listen to your Mom the next time she asks you to finish your hemp before leaving the table.
 

From the history books

Given the last 100 years, one may think that farming and the use of hemp is relatively new. In fact, hemp cultivation goes back at least 10,000 years. The oldest surviving piece of fabric, made some 8,000 years ago before cropped jeans, used hemp fibre. When the Chinese invented paper about 2,000 years ago, they also used hemp as the fibre.

Hemp has been grown as a crop on every continent but Antarctica (not yet at least). Until the late 19th century, shipping depended completely on ropes and sails made of hemp – the word “canvas” is derived from “cannabis,” the Latin word for hemp. Aren’t you glad now you took Latin in college?

 

Hemp Rope

Looking into our crystal ball

Many factors have helped contribute to the growing demand for hemp-based foods and hemp fibre. More and more consumers have learned to appreciate the nutritional and health benefits of hemp as well as its invaluable eco-friendly fibres.

Manufacturers are recognizing the many uses—old and new—of hemp fibre. It’s versatile, relatively inexpensive, completely renewable and very kind to the environment to not only grow, but in the production process as well. Imagine hemp plastic replacing our current plastic bottles or hemp fibre reducing our dependency on cotton, a crop requiring enormous amount of water and chemicals to grow. Fun fact: it takes 700 gallons or 2,650 litres to produce just one cotton t-shirt. That’s a lot of water.

 

Tale of the Tape Chart

Farming and the environment

Under ideal conditions, hemp grows very rapidly—fast enough to outgrow most weeds. If densely planted, it creates enough shade to block light from reaching the weeds, naturally eliminating them. It is also vigorous enough to withstand many insects and pests. Under proper growing conditions it needs neither herbicides nor pesticides.

Most hemp seed is non-GMO: unlike corn, soy, canola or cotton, which are mostly GMO now and could impact our digestive and immune systems. Hemp also returns as much as 70% of the nutrients from each plant’s biomass back to the soil in the form of unused parts of the stem, leaves, roots, and tops, ready to help fertilize the next crop. What an unselfish plant!