Small farmers, particularly organic farmers could benefit a lot from domestic hemp cultivation – industrial hemp, to be more specific, not medical cannabis/marijuana, which is increasingly gaining medical approval and acceptance.
This will in no way be an easy process, mostly because there are a lot of legal and bureaucratic restrictions. Industrial hemp commercial cultivation is legal in Canada though.
In the 1930s a machine called decoricator was invented. This machine replaced hand shredding of hemp to glean its fibers, fibers that could be used for textiles, clothing, paper, and plastic. The practicality of this machine was compared to the 19th century cotton gin. The decoricator would have helped hemp to take over competing industries in paper, textiles for clothing and other applications, fuel, and plastics. On the plus side, hemp took about six months to harvest, which means growing hemp in abundance was easy.
As reported by Popular Mechanics, at that time, “10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average [forest] pulp land.” However, the Marijuana Tax Act was brought in 1937.
More legislation that prohibited hemp cultivation including hemp without THC was passed as movies like “Reefer Madness” were released.
On the other hand, even before the high speed decoricator, hemp was an easy cash crop for small farmers, some of whom were recruited to continue cultivating hemp during WW II to provide hemp fibers for U.S. Naval ships’ ropes as well as other military applications.
During colonial and early American times hemp was so important that farmers were basically asked to grow it with other crops.
George Washington – “Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.”
Thomas Jefferson – “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.”
Hemp for Nutrition
Hemp including hulled hemp seeds and cold pressed oils contains all the essential amino acids for easily digested high protein. Although hemp is not abundant in omega-3, it does provide an ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. According to nutritionists, hemp is so packed with nutrients that it can be the sole food source in extreme food shortages.
Even though it’s illegal, hemp seeds grown in Canada, where industrial hemp cultivation is legal, can be obtained in health food stores or online.
Hemp Improves Farming
Hemp plants don’t depend on pesticides or synthetic fertilizers for proper growth. Taken that pesticides largely hinge on the phosphate industry, whose byproduct is the sodium fluoride sold to municipality water works, it’s no wonder why our tap water is ‘poisoned’.
And, that’s not all. The runoff of phosphate fertilizers from fields into waterways fuses with seawater leading to all sorts of nitrogen and phosphorous excesses and imbalances, all of which misbalances water’s ecological support systems.
However, hemp’s thick roots keep weeds at bay. Plus, hemp cultivation improves the soil’s nitrogen, thus making that soil more fertile.
On the plus side, the growth cycle of hemp plants is about four months. This means that in mild climates farmers can harvest hemp 2-3 times in one year. Plus, when the male plants are allowed to continually pollinate the female plants, the psychotropic THC is reduced to legal levels.
Eliminating Toxic Petrochemical Plastics
As opposed to petrochemical plastics, which are quite harmful and pose a real threat to our eco-system, plastics made with hemp, including anything from clear wraps for foods to automobile parts are much safer. Hemp plastics are not only bio-degradable, but they are also durable and heat resistant. Hemp has been used in the French auto industry for manufacturing some automobile parts. However, this was first introduced by Henry Ford in 1941 when he built his “vegetable car” with hemp and flax. It was stronger and lighter than steel cars.
Ford’s hemp-mobile also used hemp bio-diesel fuel, which creates very little pollution. But, the petroleum industry remained silent on the matter. In addition, hemp seeds were even used to make paints and lacquers in the mid-1930s.
Construction Materials for Housing
Research has shown that housing construction materials made from hemp fibers are more durable than most cheap materials used in housing construction at present. This mostly includes sheets of wood substitutes, like pasteboard or particle board or pressboards, some of which are processed and bound with toxic chemicals that can release gas into the house interiors.
Fortunately, different building materials like hempcrete, fiberboard, carpet, stucco, cement blocks, insulation, and plastic can be made from inexpensive hemp. These materials are both stronger and longer-lasting than conventional building materials. On the plus side, they are mold and rot free and more fire resistant. Last, but, not least, they are environmentally and ecologically friendly and non-toxic.
More Trees for Tree Huggers
As opposed to paper made from pulp from trees, which can be recycled up to three times, paper made from hemp can be recycled eight times. Due to the fact that hemp cultivation has been banned in the USA since 1937, 70% of the USA’s forests have been destroyed. Unlike trees, which take years to grow, hemp can be grown and harvested in 4-6 months.
In addition, one acre of hemp produces more oxygen from CO2 and methane than 25 acres of forest. Inner city hemp plots have been proposed by hemp advocates as a way to improve urban air quality.
Pulping trees for paper uses much more energy, and creates more waste and pollution than most other industries. Plus, the paper industry uses much more water compared to other industries.
“Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?” — Henry Ford