Six reasons why Canada should start growing More Hemp.
Updated: Feb 7
Hemp is probably one of the most versatile yet often misunderstood plants out there. Its historical use just proves how viable this plant is and how we would of had many of its applications already in use today if it had not been demonized.
If you know or have met a hemp enthusiast you probably already know just how amazing this plant is and the potential it has to aid in solutions for problems we currently face today.
So here's six reasons why we think Canada should start growing more hemp and be a leader in all the ways we can utilize it.
1: Hemp is better for the environment than cotton.
In my opinion, there are so many reasons why this is true. A major one is the lack of pesticides required to grow hemp. Naturally hemp has the ability to deter unwanted pest which is a far cry from cotton being a leading plant in chemical use.
Another reason, water. Its takes 2700L of water to produce one, yes, one cotton t-shirt. That is equivalent to 3.5 years worth of drinking water for one person if they consumed the recommended 2L a day. Hemp doesn't require nearly that amount in water and can tolerate much drier conditions.
The grow cycle between these play a huge role in why Hemp is superior. It is usually ready to harvest within 3-4 months. While Cotton can take up to 9 months. Plus, hemp fiber is much stronger and doesn't deteriorate nearly as quickly, meaning your hemp shirt will last way longer through washes and wear.
2: Hemp is a nutritious food, rich in protein.
The use of hemp has been important source of food the has been dated all the way back to Mesopotamia and ancient China. It's believed to be one of first crops we as humans cultivated.
Unlike many other plant proteins, Hemp seeds are considered to be a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids. The even more outstanding fact is that by weight hemp seeds are comparable to the amount of protein that is in lamb or beef. Just 1 tablespoon of hemp hearts is over 5g of protein and about 9.75 g of fat.
Not only are these seeds packed with protein but they are also rich in vitamins and minerals. These little seeds are filled with calcium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, folate and your vitamin C, A and E. Digestion is a another bonus with hemp as a food source. The seeds provide both soluble and insoluble fiber which is something I know most Canadians don't get enough of.
3: Hemp can help clean up our earth.
It has the ability to do what is called phytoremediation. This is a process in which certain plants can naturally clean and purify soil or ground water that has been contaminated with toxic matter or heavy metals.
While there still is research to be done, its pretty neat to think that we have a plant with the ability to clean improve and replenish soil which has been disturbed by us from things like farming, mining and crude oil extraction.
Which brings me to the next point....
4: Hemp can be a great rotational crop for farmers.
Hemp, compared to other crops is easier and less costly to grow. It's not only beneficial for the land but as well as a farmers profit. It doesn't require much, if any pesticides or herbicides. As mentioned in point 3, Hemp has the ability to clean the soil and replenish nutrients back to keep it healthy. Although, it's best paired in rotation with a nitrogen fixing crop as hemp does demand for a larger nitrogen consumption.
It has a long taproot which can extend much deeper than other plants, utilizing water from further down and pulling up nutrients buried in the soil. This also plays a great role in helping aerate and loosen up compacted soil. Its positive impacts on the soil can help make future crops have higher yields.
5: Hemp Plastics.
Don't get me wrong, I understand the use of plastics has played a pivotal role in many of the conveniences and other necessary things we had today. I also understand that there are some things we currently couldn't make the switch to a bio plastic. But ultimately, there is a price to pay for the excessive misuse of petroleum based plastics and we have to do something about it.
Presently, the technology is there to create hemp based plastic products that could replace many of the things we use today. Hemp is a much more sustainable resource actually absorbing C02 during its growth cycle. Hemp plastics that have been produced are shown to be light weight, compost-able, but still strong.
With giant companies like LEGO looking at hemp as a possible replacement for there infamous building blocks, you know that it's time to start looking at hemp bio-plastics more seriously.
6: Green Homes - Hemp as a building material.
Hemp as a building material has shown some great potential. An Alberta company based out of Airdrie has proven it. Just BioFiber has created hemp building blocks that than be used at comparable cost to other conventional building materials.
These non-toxic blocks are fire resistant and also incredibly strong. The blocks act as a thermal mass. Naturally storing and releasing heat as the air around it needs it. They are mold resistant and can build structures quicker.
There is an application for these blocks world wide. The ease and simplicity of them makes it perfect for places in need of quality building material that's better for our environment. Other companies have made panels with hemp concrete and hemp insulation. The only other thing I can say about this is I know I'll be looking at hemp building materials if I decide to build my dream home in the future.
This is just the beginning. The more farmers, companies and people looking at the ways we can use hemp the better. Expanding our knowledge of hemp means more innovations. This brief list is just a few things that are currently being looked at for its uses and I for one cant wait to see where the hemp industry goes, especially in Canada.