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Spring 2007 - Act•ionLine

The Canadian Hemp Invasion

Hemp. The word may remind you of West Coast living and Cheech & Chong, but today, hemp products are demanding serious consideration and an impressive market presence.

"It will be a huge year for hemp: hemp milk, cheese and oil? wrote Andy Bourdain in the New York Times.? All these products are being imported from Canada now, and there is a huge opportunity because so many people don't like the taste of soy or have allergies to it, and people need a new alternative that is vegan."

Hemp contains insignificant amounts of THC, the active component in marijuana. It's an eco-friendly and hearty plant, requiring relatively little maintenance and care. Hemp is drought-resistant, does well without the use of pesticides, and a hemp grower produces nearly four times as much raw material as a tree plantation of the same size. Hemp is now a legal crop in Canada, providing both the healthful seeds and fibers for commercial use.

Hemp clothing is taking over Canadian cites. Casual wear to full suits are now available, as are hats, wallets, belts, handbags and shoes.

It's also sold as a nutrient. Remove the hull to get the ?heart? of hemp -- a little seed, resembling sesame seed in both looks and texture, but with a nuttier taste. It's packed full of nutrients, including a significant amount of protein and much-desired Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. Health food stores are your best bet for finding these products.

Hemp hearts are tasty on their own, or sprinkled on other foods as a topping. Hemp oil is also popular, similar in nutrition to flax oil, with a greenish hue. It's great on salads.

Today, Popeye might choose hemp protein powder over spinach, for it contains all eight essential amino acids. They?re the building blocks of protein, and we need to consume eight of the known 22 in order to remain healthy. The seeds are ground into a whole-food protein powder, which, as the New York Times pointed out, is a boon for those with sensitivities to soy.

Hemp is also being included in more conventional foods that can easily be spotted in today's health food aisles. It can be found ground to use as flour for baking, and there is even a hemp soda! Hemp is starring in cereals, waffles, energy bars, cookies, brownies and even pretzels. It's being used to make hemp milk, hemp cheese, hemp butter (similar to peanut butter), and a new ice cream -- although we?re still recommending a popular soy varieties until we find the perfect hemp dessert.

Finally, hemp oil can be found in body care products. Dr. Bronner's wonderful hemp and peppermint soap has been a pioneer in the field. Today, there are excellent shampoos, hand creams and lotions, and lip balms. Look for the Merry Hempsters brand, which includes several vegan varieties. In Britain, the Yaoh brand of vegan lip balms are available in natural food shops, and highly recommended. Both are available with sunblock factors.

So look out: Hemp is on its way!

Act•ionLine Spring 2007

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