Sep 6, 2018

Hemp Trends

by Eva Chacon

Gather around boys and girls, we are going to learn about hemp trends! For those of you who aren’t aware what hemp is, buckle up, as you are about to enter the world of tomorrow. Hemp seeds come from the plant Cannabis sativa L. If this plant sounds familiar to you, it's probably because a strain of this genus is known as marijuana. However, the strain we are talking about today is non-psychoactive and non-medicinal - but it was used over 10,000 years ago to make paper and has had an incredible history of uses since.

When we talk about hemp seeds, we actually mean an achene: a simple dry fruit with a hard shell, just like sunflower seeds, where the real seed is actually inside the whole.  This part of the seed is called the hemp heart. It is considered one of the most versatile and economical plants in existence. It grows extremely rapidly with little environmental depletion and can be used for ropes, building products, fabrics, and even food products. It is extremely eco-friendly and very cost effective. However, due to its more controversial, psychoactive strains, hemp has a bad rap the industry has been struggling to overcome ever since, and it has been banned in the U.S. for many years. However, things are beginning to change, and it is becoming more widely known as a sustainable plant that could make your everyday life more affordable and nature-friendly.

Firstly, there is hemp clothing- hemp is a great product to use for clothes because it is such a strong, durable material. Hemp is lightweight, breathable, absorbent, and is up to 3x stronger than normal cotton. It is UV and mold-resistant, water resistant, and can also be weaved with other fibers - which makes it a great option for clothing companies. You can use hemp for all sorts of clothing items, including hats or shoes. All cheaply, sustainably produced. Like bamboo clothing, we would love to see the market move in this eco-friendly direction.

Hemp is also making some awesome changes in the world of food. Since hemp is such a versatile seed, the culinary uses for this are limitless. You can make oils, flour, butter and even milk! Yes, you read that right, hemp milk. In fact, historically, Buddha himself ate hemp seeds. Hemp is popping up more and more in foods because it is jam-packed with amino acids, including all 9 essential amino acids, as well as omega fatty acids - in fact, hemp has more fatty acids than any other nut or seed oil. It is also a good source of protein. It is simple to incorporate hemp hearts into your daily diet. Try sprinkling some in your morning smoothie, adding to salads, yogurt, or even just eating them plain -with a nutty taste somewhere between a sunflower seed and a pine nut you won't be disappointed. Hemp seeds are also gluten-free and a great alternative to breadcrumbs! In case you were wondering, no, eating hemp seeds will not get you high like marijuana will - hemp grown for food contains about 0.001 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. So don't worry - incorporating hemp into your daily life won't make you fail a drug test or leave you feeling disoriented.

Lastly, did you know that hemp seeds can be made into fuel? In fact, it is considered to be one of the most efficient plants for biofuel and is being actively explored as an alternative to fossil fuels. There are two type of fuel that can be made from hemp: Hemp biodiesel and Hemp ethanol/methanol (ethanol is made from things like grains, sugars, starches, waste paper, and forest products, and methanol is made from woody/pulp matter). Using processes such as gasification, acid hydrolysis, and enzymes, hemp can be used to make both ethanol or methanol. Hemp biodiesel is the name for a variety of ester-based oxygenated fuels made from hemp oil. This has great potential because it is safe to transport and handle, is 10x less toxic than salt, and has a significantly high flash point of 300F (as opposed to petroleum fuel that has a flash point of 125F), and to top it all off, it is biodegradable. In the search for renewable energy, hemp biofuel is leading the way!

These are just some of the ways hemp could be used to create a more sustainable future. Let’s hope that legislation will soon catch up with the potential of this amazing plan