In this article, I offer a "tip of the iceberg" view of what may well be the most useful plant known to humankind; hemp. Almost any product that can be made from wood, cotton, soy, or petroleum (including plastics) can be made from hemp. There are more than 25,000 known uses for hemp.
In the world of textiles, cotton is "king". Cotton represents 1/2 the fiber grown worldwide for clothes and other textiles. Although, cotton requires ever increasingly heavy doses of pesticides and fertilizer to produce the same quantity. The production of cotton worldwide accounts for about 25% of the world’s pesticide use. These chemicals end up being absorbed into our skin as we wear cotton clothing.The hemp plant requires no fertilizers, no pesticides: no chemicals whatsoever. In fact, it feeds the soil with valuable nutrients. It is naturally resistant to pests. Its large upper leaves naturally push out weeds allowing it to grow very quickly, maturing in three to four months.
Growing cotton requires about 1400 gallons of water for every pound produced. Some areas of the world have even experienced desertification as a result of producing cotton. Hemp requires 1/2 that, while producing about 250% more fiber. Repeated washing breaks down cotton fiber about 1/3 faster than hemp. Creating hemp clothing would mean we would need to produce much less clothing.
Food & Nutrition
In agriculture, soy is"king". Although, hemp is a healthier source of protein and likely the most versatile plant in the plant kingdom. Hemp contains;
* All 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce.
* A high percentage of the proteins that strengthen immunity and fend off toxins.
* Nature’s highest source of essential fatty acid.
* A perfect ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3, for cardiovascular and immune system health.
* A superior vegetarian source of protein considered easily digestible.
* A rich source of phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants with benefits protecting immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin, organs and mitochondria.
* The richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids.
The seeds may be eaten raw, added to soups and salads, used in baking, used as cereal, flour, sprouted, turned into tofu or nut butters, used as a protein powder, added to smoothies or shakes, or made into tea. The fresh leaves of the hemp plant are also edible.
While corn and soy dominate the food industry, they are almost entirely GMO (94% of soy, 88% of corn grown in the U.S. in 2012). Hemp is never genetically modified.
Hemp oil can be used to create an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum based paints, oils, and inks. One of the most compelling uses of hemp is in the form of clean-burning bio-fuels. Hemp is Earth's number-one biomass resource. Biomass can be converted to methane, methanol, or gasoline at a cost comparable to petroleum. Growing hemp produces 10 tons per acre in four months, 10 times more methanol than corn, making biomass from hemp an obvious alternative to petroleum.
Hemp fuel burns clean and does not contribute to global warming. In addition, hemp is spectacular at sequestering CO2! Farming just 6% of the continental U.S. acreage with biomass crops would provide all of America's energy needs!!!