Written by Sarah Quallen
While hemp holds a special place in some of our hearts—mine included—from the bracelets and necklaces that were staple accessories in the 90s, the growing and harvesting of hemp has actually been a very controversial topic over the years. Here are a few reasons to support hemp farming in America:
1. Hemp grows like a weed. For farmers, this means a high rate of production. Hemp grows quickly, and it does not require a lot of space to do so, meaning more product grows on smaller plots of land in less time. In fact, according to the Hemp History Week campaign, while American farmers often net less than $50 per acre for soy and corn, Canadian farmers just across the border net an average of $200-400 per acre for hemp. And, even better—Yes! It gets better!—it grows well in a wide range of soil types and climates.
2. Hemp is a super food. Blueberries, shmooberries! Toss some hemp hearts on your salad, put hemp seeds in your energy bar, or use hemp seed oil for cooking. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids and it’s a complete protein to boot. (Just kidding about the blueberries, of course. Eat those, too!)
3. Hemp is good for the soil. Because of its weed-like qualities, growing hemp does not require pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. It also does not require a lot of water to grow, and its resiliency can actually help to clean polluted soil. It’s so good at cleaning soil that it was among the plants used to clean the soil and groundwater after Chernobyl. Plus, hemp absorbs CO2 through photosynthesis, which could reduce greenhouse gases.
4. Hemp can be made into plastic. According to Hemp.com, hemp plastic is so durable it can be used to make cars! It’s stronger, lighter, and less expensive than fiberglass. Plus, it’s recyclable. With just a small portion of our farmland, we can replace production of billions of oil-based plastic water bottles with compostable hemp bottles.
5. Hemp can be made into fabric. Durable and comfortable, hemp fabric can be added to the list of excellent natural fibers next to cotton and linen. And twine—for necklaces, of course!
To date, 23 states have passed pro-industrial hemp legislation, which means the United States will soon be producing more hemp products, thereby creating jobs built around the hemp industry. Since Americans import as much as $11.5 million worth of hemp from China and Canada each year, it’s a good bet that hemp farming will be a sustainable and profitable industry for our country.
To find out more about hemp, including its history and uses, check out Hemp History Week at hemphistoryweek.com.