The Rich History of Hemp on a CD
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Organic Hemp can make a significant positive impact
in the world. Hemp offers a green, renewable alternative to many
of our environmentally destructive products and practices.
Since 1937, about half the world's forests have been cut to make
paper. If hemp had not been outlawed at that time, most would likely
still be standing, oxygenating the planet. Hemp plants provide four
times the paper fibre per acre per year than trees do - even plantation
poplar trees - and can be planted again the next year. Previous
to 1883, over 75% of the world's paper was made from hemp, much
of it recycled from ships' hemp sails and ropes. With the emerging
new processing technologies, that could happen again and in a way
that pollutes much less than processing wood fibre. Hemp paper has
proven to be more durable, longer lasting and recyclable more times
than most tree based paper and requires no chlorine in the bleaching
Traditionally farmers grew hemp for the fibre for ropes and cloth,
since it grows the longest and strongest natural fibres. They also
grew hemp for the seeds for their food and animal feed and to crush
for edible, lamp and finishing oils. The economic vibrancy of the
family farm began declining soon after farmers were prohibited from
Since 1998, growing hemp has once again been legalized
in Canada. Hemp is a crop that fits well into the farm rotation
cycle. It usually needs no pesticides or herbicides and when grown
for fibre, plants are placed closer thereby easily eliminating weeds
by outgrowing them, thus making it a good crop for transition to
organic certification. It is drought resistant and has long penetrating
roots that aerate the soil and prevent erosion.
An interesting study recently conducted by the University of Kuopio,
Finland, compared the nutritional value and other health benefits
of Hempseed oil and Flaxseed oil. It found that Hemp oil gives a
"dramatic increase in Blood Level GLA (Gamma-Linoleic Acid)" - while
flax oil actually lowers Blood Level GLA. (For more about GLA, see
Nutrition and for more information
about this study see the Ontario
Hemp Alliance website.)
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are abundant in hemp
seeds. EFAs, lacking in most North American diets, can clear arteries
of cholesterol, slow MS symptoms, improve immune system and hormone
functions, and nourish brain cells. Deficiencies manifest as arthritis,
PMS, osteoporosis, depression and more. Recent studies show that
hempseeds can also help with some forms of diabetes.
More easily digested complete protein can be grown
per acre with hemp than with any other crop. Soybeans need cooking
to make them digestible, while hempseeds' nutrients are available
in either the raw or lightly cooked state. People have been eating
them for thousands of years.
Hemp seeds made into a 'milk', along with a liver
respecting diet, have been shown to cure TB. The edestine protein
in hemp was found to be the active principle.
Due to its high EFA content, hemp oil used in cosmetics
can assist in the treatment of many skin ailments, including eczema,
psoriasis, neurodermatitis and dry skin. We have found hemp body
butter very soothing to our hands after a day of garden work or
washing dishes and excellent for massage.
Over 25,000 Potential Uses
Hemp oil is also used in biodegradable soaps and cleaning products,
easing the burden of chemical based detergents on the environment.
It can also serve as a base for paints and varnishes, because of
it's excellent drying quality.
In 1937, Popular Science magazine listed over 25,000
potential uses for the hemp plant. Modern technology has even increased
its uses, from products as diverse as highly nutritious foods to
building insulation and pvc plastic. Today's challenge is for processing
technology to catch up to the farmers' ability to grow the crop.
Dormant for 60 years, the hemp industry is only now beginning to
creatively explore better ways of harvesting and processing the
crop. One recent innovation has been to remove the crunchy outer
shell of the seed to make the soft inner kernel available. Many
other new food uses of the seed and the kernel have emerged onto
the marketplace since Canada again legalized hemp growing.
Hemp, the Environment and
Hemp can help the environment by slowing climate change and lessening
acid rain (by switching to hemp ethanol and hemp biodiesel fuels),
by using less farm chemicals (cotton uses about 50% of all pesticides
and herbicides in the US, as contrasted with longer-lasting hemp
fibre cloth, which generally needs none of either), by making paper
from hemp (no dioxin bleach needed, produces four times more paper
per acre per year than trees), and by reducing imports as Canada
grows (and uses) its own. Domestically grown fuel can also reduce
the likelihood of future oil wars.
Hemp has a significant role to play in our future.
Hemp can help the farm economy, our health, the environment and
can contribute to a "whole earth" solution.