Hemp has a long, important history in the United States. It was used to make the sails and lines of Revolutionary-era ships, and some sources say hemp was used to make the paper that the Declaration of Independence was drafted on. But in 1970, hemp was erroneously classified as marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. Even though hemp contains negligible amounts of psychoactive THC (hemp foods contain less than 0.001 percent THC, and will not get you high), this new law rendered it illegal for U.S. farmers to cultivate. Nearly all hemp foods on store shelves today are grown in Canada.
But that may be changing. For nearly a decade, activist groups such as Vote Hemp have worked to bring hemp back to the United States for several reasons. Hemp is highly sustainable to grow because it does not require synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. It’s also healthy to consume—hemp seeds and hemp oil are chock-full of good omega fats. And hemp is an economically viable crop. Farmers who grow it can receive more than twice as much per acre than from soy or corn.
Finally, farmers are starting to cultivate hemp in the United States again. In 2014, the U.S. Farm Bill distinguished hemp as different from marijuana and granted farmers approval to grow it as part of research or pilot programs. Growing hemp is now legal in 33 states, and in 2017, farmers planted and harvested more than 25,000 acres of this sensible crop.
5 ways to use hemp:
- Sprinkle a tablespoon of shelled hemp seeds over salads or rice dishes.
- Drizzle hemp oil over tomato soup as a garnish.
- Add a scoop of hemp protein to your morning smoothie.
- Blend hemp seeds with raw cashews, water, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper for a creamy veggie dip.
- Stir shelled hemp seeds into Greek yogurt.