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7 Things You Didn’t Know About…Hemp Seeds

June 2, 2014

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It can be turned into paper, cars, clothing, fuel, and food … is there anything hemp can’t do?

The tiny protein-packed seeds that you might sprinkle on your oatmeal have quite the history behind them. I’m sure you already know hemp is a complete protein and, thanks to its high omega 3 content, is highly anti-inflammatory.

But no matter how much you love your hemp milk, I bet there is a lot you didn’t know about this versatile crop. Check out these 7 fun facts about hemp:

 1. Hemp’s relation to marijuana: Yes, it’s true – hemp seeds and marijuana come from the same plant. While marijuana leaves are loaded with tetrahydrocannabinoids (THC), the active ingredient that sends you tripping, hemp seeds are not. So, no need to worry about any unintended side effects before sprinkling hemp on your cereal before work.

 2. Founding father favorite: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp (and actually smoked the leaves, too, as they reportedly thought it was healthier than drinking alcohol!) It was the first crop ever planted by settlers in many states and was widely used for creating rope and textiles. In Virginia, you could have actually been jailed for refusing to grow it from 1763 to 1769. This is in stark contrast to today, wheb it now illegal to grow hemp in America (although the sale of hemp seeds is legal). All of our hemp seeds are imported from Canada or other countries.

3. Tree savior: Up until the late 1800s, most of our paper – from our nation’s founding documents to the bible to school books – were all printed on hemp paper. Hemp paper was even made at Benjamin Franklin’s paper mill. One acre of hemp could produce as much paper as 4.1 acres of trees. In fact, in 1916, the U.S. government predicted that by the 1940s, all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees would need to be cut down. I think they had the right idea – I’m not sure where we veered off track!

4. Hemp Model T Ford: The first mass produced automobile, the Model T Ford, was constructed in part out of hemp (turned into plastic) and was even designed to run on hemp and other plant-based fuel. Henry Ford was even quoted in the New York Times in 1925 predicting that ethyl alcohol (plant-based fuel) was the fuel of the future.

5. Hemp fashion: Until the cotton gin was introduced in the 1820s, 80% of textiles, fabrics, and clothing were made from hemp. Today, there are only a handful of small companies commercially producing hemp clothing.

6. Plant hemp to slow global warming: Global warming is caused by high carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Hemp absorbs four times more carbon dioxide than trees do, and has a very short growing cycle of just 12-14 weeks, making it an extremely sustainable crop that can help combat global warming.

7. Ancient hemp: The oldest records of hemp growth go back 5,000 years to China. Its ability to grow in a variety of soils with little maintenance, paired with its versatile uses, made hemp an important crop all over the world.

You can enjoy hemp seeds sprinkled on cereals, yogurt, grain dishes, or salads. They add a slightly nutty flavor and lots of texture to your dishes. You can purchase pre-made hemp milk at the supermarket or make your own by blending 1/2 cup hemp seeds with 2 cups water and your favorite sweetener to taste.

What is your favorite way to eat hemp?