Hemp.

Hemp

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Hemp used to be a traditional crop for its fiber and seeds all over Europe.

Hemp.

Feral hemp plants (Cannabis sp.) growing wild on a nature reserve in Hungary.
These plants are probably descended from cultivated hemp plans which were quite common in the past.

Hemp is a highly useful crop that provides excellent fibers. Hemp seed was traditionally used for animal feed but nowadays there is an increasing utilization as food for humans — some even even go as far as to claim that hemp seed is the ideal food. Hemp seed contains complete proteins which are of much better quality than protein from other industrial crops such as soy beans, and much more easily digestible by humans. Hemp seed oil is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, its omega-6:omega-3 ratio is around 3:1 which is considered to be the ideal balance for humans. Hemp milk is considered to be much better health-wise than other plant based milk substitutes such as soy milk.

An organic beverage made of hemp seeds.

An organic beverage made of hemp seeds.

Thus the organic food industry loves to sell hemp products — unfortunately some of them are outrageously overpriced. Probably the price of hemp products is not helped the least bit by the paranoia surrounding the hemp plant. The hemp plant used for fiber and food is essentially the same Cannabis plant, although a different cultivar, as the marijuana plant used for recreational drugs which are still illegal in lots of jurisdictions, although rules have been relaxed in many places recently. This is used by do-gooders as an excuse to heavily regulate — if not ban outright — hemp production in lots of places, which drives the up price of this otherwise cheap and environmentally friendly industrial raw material. A shining example of how to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Perhaps in the future major governments stop behaving like children, and hemp production will once again be common for the many industrial uses, for its fiber, its oil content, and as a source of high quality protein for human consumption and animal feed.

Further Readings:

Hemp on Wikipedia.
Hemp oil on Wikipedia.
Hemp milk on Wikipedia.
Legality of cannabis on Wikipedia.
Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance.
Hemp in Ontario — Government of Ontario web site.
Last updated: March 6, 2015

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