June is a celebration of Hemp History and we have so much to celebrate! Finally our country is turning the tide of prohibition as many states are able to grow hemp once again. If you recall that George Washington, considered the Father of our country, wanted all American farmers to grow hemp. George, being a knowledgeable farmer as well as a top military strategist and statesman, knew the vast potential that this sustainable plant had and the many products it could provide to this fledgling group of 13 states. It was in the 1930’s when the industrialists of our country chose to put the kibosh on hemp production. If this plant flourished, they wouldn’t be able to sell their products such as paper, pharmaceuticals and rope. 2017 makes the 8th year of recognizing Hemp History Week by the grassroots organizations Hemp Industries Association and Vote Hemp.com. This amazing natural plant needs our help, awareness and support in making it accessible to everyone in their daily lives.
In 2016 the hemp growth within the United States rose by 25 percent, reaching a market growth of $688 million dollars. Organizers and supporters planned to advocate for full federal legalization of industrial hemp farming this year and Hemp History Week will continue to raise awareness about the environmental sustainability, health benefits, regenerative agriculture potential and new innovative technological applications of industrial hemp.
Regrettably the Drug Enforcement Administration recently announced their Final Ruling regarding “Marihuana Extract,” which attempts to give the DEA regulatory control over lawfully cultivated and manufactured cannabinoid products, including CBD products. On February 6, 2017, the Hemp Industries Association filed a lawsuit against the DEA regarding the agency’s illegal attempt to impede interstate commerce of lawfully cultivated hemp food products.
Over 1,500 grassroots events and retailer sales are planned for this June in celebration of Hemp History Week, coordinated by organizers, hemp farming advocates, and natural products industry leaders around the country. In Southern California at the Del Mar Fair San Diego and Orange County Fair in June, July and August, I will be presenting cooking with hemp, as I have had the pleasure of educating about this now for over five years. This year, I plan to nudge the awareness even more by adding CBD to the vegan and vegetarian dishes that Fair attendees may sample. It’s exciting, but I’m admittedly a bit apprehensive as I further push the envelope of education and outreach!
Hemp is among the fastest-growing products and offers a wide a variety of categories in the natural foods industry. Hemp seed is a rich source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), providing both SDA and GLA, highly-digestible protein, and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and iron. An excellent source of dietary fiber, hemp seed is also a complete protein—meaning it contains all ten essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by the human body.
Hemp seed, milk, ice cream, oil, cereals and snacks, as well as hemp protein powder, dietary supplements and body care are increasingly popular and available at natural and conventional grocers everywhere. Consumers are increasingly turning onto the nourishing health benefits of hemp foods and body products. Some of the leading natural product brands known for manufacturing the highest quality hemp products in the United States are: Dr. Bronner’s, Farmer Direct Co-op, Living Harvest TEMPT, Nature’s Path Organic, Nutiva, Pacific Foods, and Plus+CBD Oil.
Congratulations and support needs to continue to the 32 states that have legalized industrial hemp farming. The Farm Bill Sec. 7606, that has passed to farm hemp in US states include: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. In 2016 Colorado lead the way with having over 5,000 acres devoted to hemp farming, followed by West Virginia with close to 3,000 acres and Oregon just starting with 500 acres. Exciting news as some of the first licenses to farm hemp in California will continue the growth and awareness to provide sustainable hemp to the community for years to come. No more prohibition on the wonderful harvest of hemp!