Eco Living Magazine presents:
Heading: Hemp and Humanity- How Can it Help
By Michelle Stapleton
Hemp food products are widely consumed throughout the world, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand.
Intro: What if someone told you that there was an amazing natural resource that could help feed us, house us, clothe us, make our paper, our fuel, replace plastic with a biodegradable alternative and assist in our personal care? You would be amazed? Read on!
The resource that can achieve this is industrial hemp, and this natural resource has been well tested throughout time for thousands of years, but in the last fifty years it has virtually disappeared from mainstream usage in western society. Hemp is one of the oldest plants used by mankind. Hemp seeds have been found in archaeological excavations over much of the world. The potential of this resource is now being revisited, developed and adapted to meet 21st century needs, right here in Australia, in several Industry sectors. The industry now needs support from the consumer and the support of Government. The present limitations on its use are environmentally, economically and socially irrational.
Growing hemp was made illegal in the early part of last century due to the economic advantage of the timber, cotton and synthetic fibre industries. The United States of America headed this change and the rest of the “western world” followed their lead. With the greater need for sustainable industries and environmental practices, the tide is turning for industrial hemp – a new evolution is dawning.
Today, one of the main misconceptions with Industrial hemp is the botanical relationship with Marijuana. Industrial hemp has little or no THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychotropic drug) found in high levels in Marijuana. Unfortunately, it has the same botanical name as Marijuana – Cannabis Sativa. Approximately 90% of Cannabis Sativa is industrial hemp and only 10% is Marijuana yet the Marijuana debate dominates the discussions surrounding Cannabis Sativa. industrial hemp and its attributes need to be understood and supported.
Why should we be using industrial hemp?
- Hemp is the longest and strongest natural plant fibre.
- Hemp is suitable to be grown in most climates and conditions, including high degree of soil salinity.
- Hemp can be successfully grown with little or no use of insecticides, fertilisers, herbicides or fungicides.
- Hemp can be used to produce paper without the use of chlorines.
- Hemp can produce up to 4½ times more paper per acre then pulped timber.
- Hemp outgrows all weeds and prevents the growth of weeds leaving the farm paddock clean for the next year.
- Hemp has a deep taproot, which penetrates the soil raising nutrients towards the surface and aerating the soil.
- Hemp cloth is extremely hard wearing. It outwears cotton and other natural fibres. The fabric improves with washing and wearing. It rapidly absorbs moisture. Over time it becomes softer without losing its shape or appearance. Hemp offers a high degree of UV protection and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
- Hemp seed oil contains a balance of the essential oils required by the human body- all of the Omega Fatty acids in the correct ratios for the human body. The oil is easily absorbed into our skin, and is attributed to assisting medical skin conditions including Psoriasis, Eczema and Dermatitis. Hemp Protein is the best source of plant protein in the world.
Worldwide demand for hemp food and fibre products is growing daily. Unfortunately, most hemp fibre products are still imported due to the fledgling size of the Australian hemp farming community. We have the ability to process and produce a variety of hemp fibre and cellulose based products. We have the industries ready to utilise Australian hemp fibre and seed, all Australia needs more farmers to meet the demand of the industries that require hemp fibre and seed – and for this, all is needed is our support.
Australia is geographically well suited to the commercial production of industrial hemp. Additionally, five states have made the necessary legislative changes that allow commercial industrial hemp farming. The emerging food industry in Queensland is currently providing hemp products for the export industry and pet food sector. Demand for human consumption in Australia is increasing, and needs further support from the public and Government. Hemp food products are widely consumed throughout the world, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand. The legislative power to regulate hemp is held by each state government.
There is a strong demand for hemp fibres also, in various manufacturing industries. Hemp is now being included as a component of current corporate research in Australia, utilising modern techniques and technology within the building industry. There are exciting proposals for a hemp pulp industry underway in Western Australia, which really make sense – a superior paper can be made from the hemp plant. Hemp plastic technology is another emerging industry that needs our support. State industry representative groups are being formed and are set to play key roles in the growth and development of the Hemp industry.
Due to the overuse of other commonly used natural resources and global environmental pressures, Henry Ford’s visionary construction of a hemp car in 1941 may actually be a reality in mainstream production in the future. This was a car, which was constructed using hemp and other cellulose and resins to make most of the components. Although no one is making automobiles from hemp today, Mercedes Benz has pledged to build parts such as dashboards from it.
Impressively, and importantly, the environmental benefits of the growing of hemp, include, (though are not limited to): less reliance on fossil fuels; more efficient use of energy; water conservation; forest conservation; carbon sequestration; agricultural pesticide use reduction; dioxin and other pollution reduction; recycled end use efficiency and landfill reduction.
Let us take our future into our own hands and make NOW the time to choose wisely to make the power of our dollar really count. With global warming upon us and the need for alternatives, hemp can be a part of the solution to a sustainable future.
The food legislation in Australia needs to be amended to create a viable industry for our farmers. The legalisation of industrial hemp products in the food industry will enable the whole plant to be used, making the industry more profitable as well as ecologically sustainable.
©Eco Living Magazine