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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Renewable Resource Alert: 10 Facts About Hemp

In an ongoing fight to shake a bad reputation, hemp is successfully reclaiming its identity as a renewable, sustainable resource with a wide-range of possibilities. An increasing number of people no longer associate hemp with the mood-enhancing drug marijuana and are aware of the many benefits to cultivating industrial hemp, which produces a versatile fiber and oil found in many new products on the market. In this post, explore the ins and outs of hemp and some of the ways you may experience its potential. 1) Completely natural product. Despite millions of wild hemp plants currently calling the United States their home, marijuana laws prevent farmers from making a living off of the same plant – even though the low THC content isn’t enough to classify it as an illegal drug. 2) Pesticide and herbicide-free. When compared to cotton, no need to worry about harmful pesticides and herbicides tainting the healthiness of your hemp products. 50% of the herbicides and pesticides used in the world are connected to cotton production. Each year, just 1 acre of hemp will generate as much fiber as 2 to 3 acres of cotton. Interestingly, hemp fibers are stronger and softer than cotton. They last twice as long and do not mildew. 3) Body care. From lip balm to healing salve, the lack of chemicals used during growth and production if hemp certainly comes in handy when making body care products. Many of the products contain hemp seed oil, which offers a high amount of essential fatty acids (EFA) and delivers a healthy dose of nutrients to your skin and hair. For example, use hemp seed oil salve to treat rashes, poison ivy and oak, wounds, burns, and dry skin. 4) Save a tree. No offense to trees, but the quality of hemp paper surpasses tree-based paper. It will last hundreds of years without degrading and continues a recyclable life far longer than tree-based paper. During the manufacturing process, less toxic chemicals are used. Hemp also produces stronger and lighter fiberboard. Replace our current fiberboard with a hemp alternative and we can save our forests. 5) Nutritious foods. Soybean protein is good, but the more nutritious and economical hemp seeds contain a protein that easily transforms into veggie burgers, cheese, pasta, butter, salad dressings, ice cream, and even milk. Ground the hemp seed (which does not produce intoxicating effects) to create baked goods, including cookies, breads, and other products like Hempzels Hemp Sourdough Pretzels – a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch hard variety consisting of shelled hemp seed and unbleached winter wheat flour. 6) Clean-burning fuel. Following in the footsteps of corn, hemp easily converts into clean-burning ethanol fuel and has the potential to become a major player in the world of transportation. With the ability to grow in an extensive number of locations and climates, hemp plants could become the future of ethanol fuel. 7) You trust your Presidents, right? Praise for the hemp plant came from none other than our earliest presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who grew and used hemp products. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper and Benjamin Franklin owned a mill that produced hemp paper. 8) Hemp housing. Mix the THC-free woody inner core of the Cannabis plant and you have an eco-friendly material for housing construction. The plant absorbs silica from surrounding soil and when combined with unslaked lime – a chemical bond takes place. The result is comparable to cement that is not only waterproof, but also resistant to fire. 9) Worldwide connections. In the past, the Soviet Union held the honors of largest hemp producer between the 1950s and 1980s. Other significant hemp producing countries include China, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Poland, France, and Italy. During the 1990s, Canada, United Kingdom, and Germany advanced their commercial production interests. In Britain, hemp serves as bedding for horses. Germany transforms the fiber into composite automotive panels. Food products, cosmetics, and textile grade fibers top the list for the most popular uses for hemp fibers. 10) Versatility. The number of products associated with the hemp plant is more than 25,000… and counting. Just some of the selections that take advantage of the wide-ranging properties of hemp, include:
  • Hemp dog collars and leashes
  • Hemp chew toys for pets
  • Hemp rope for jewelry making
  • Hemp guitar straps
  • Hemp wallets
Sources: Hemp Basics; North American Industrial Hemp Council Image Credits: The Body Shop

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