Updated: Aug 20, 2019
“ya! maybe — high on health!”
This pretty much sums up the first thought or two that come to mind for those who are trying a dish with hemp for the first time. There is a great misconception about hemp products in the culinary world. Actually, about hemp in general. No - you will not get high off of eating something containing hemp. And, yes - it is extremely healthy for you!
Therefore, feel more than free to try Pastificio’s Hemp dry pasta! It’s new to our shop and is just so dang delicious!
With this in mind, you can only imagine why I am writing this blog post today — just looking to give you all a little bit more information that might open your eyes to the hemp world.
Now, before we get into all the health benefits and that good stuff, I wanted to explain just one thing. Hemp and marijuana are indeed from the same genus (family), Cannabis Sativa; however, they couldn’t be more different. As so correctly quoted by Louis O’Neill in his article The History of Hemp: Humanity’s First Mass - Produced Crop? “Hemp and marijuana both fall under the umbrella, or genus of Cannabis Sativa — though they are very different. A similar comparison would be a German Shepherd and a Chihuahua. While they both fall under the ‘Dog’ category, they’re clearly on opposite ends of the family.” I just love this quote. It perfectly assesses the general misconception of this old-world and not to mention, extremely versatile, plant.
The most significant difference between hemp and marijuana is actually its Tetrahydrocannabinol content, or otherwise known as THC. This is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that results in its users getting “high.” Hemp typically contains a THC level of .3% or less; whereas, marijuana contains levels ranging anywhere around 5-30%. Thus, with much confidence, we can say that the THC level in hemp is absolutely not enough to get consumers “high.”
Now this is super interesting - it is suggested that hemp may, in fact, have been one of the earliest plants to have been cultivated on a large scale by humans. The earliest record of hemp usage dates back to 8000 BC. In what is modern day China and Taiwan, hemp cords have been found in ancient pottery. There have also been traces of hemp cloth from ancient Mesopotamia, now Iraq and Iran, of which dates around the same time. In 6000 BC records, hemp seeds and oil were found to be a food source in China and its surrounding areas. Soon after, in 4000 BC, they began making textiles using this crop. It has been documented in the Shu King, an ancient Chinese book that dates back to 2,350 BC, that Chinese soil was filled with hemp and that hemp was being woven into clothing. Chinese warfare, more specifically bowstrings, were also being made from hemp. It seems that the first 4000 years of its known use has been limited to China, its surrounding areas, and parts of the Middle East.
From around 200 BC up until the 5th century, China kept the great secret of its invention of the first hemp-based paper. They made this by crushing hemp fibers and mixing it with bark and water. The oldest documents written on this paper are Buddhist texts from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.
It is said that hemp’s introduction the Americas began with Christopher Columbus. Since hemp was the one of the most commonly used materials for making boats, it was not surprising that ropes and sails of the three boats of Columbus - the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria - were made with hemp fibers. Little did Columbus know that he was one of the first to bring the idea of hemp into the New World.
Oh how it’s funny that this huge misconception of hemp has developed over the years when indeed our very own Founding Fathers — George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin — were such avid proponents of hemp and its cultivation. They not only supported the idea, but were active members in the creation of the hemp industry. Washington and Adams were dedicated hemp farmers. Washington grew hemp for home spun clothes, and it is quoted in his diary from August 7, 1765 “ — began to separate the male from the female hemp at Do — rather too late.” Today, this technique is used for drug potency in marijuana. Though very much debatable, this, along with other trace records, suggest that some of the Founding Fathers did indeed smoke hemp for pleasure.
Aside from being a dedicated farmer, Jefferson received the first United States patent, which just so happened to be a hemp threshing machine. It is also known that Jefferson, while serving as ambassador to France, smuggled new strains of the cannabis seed from China to France and then the Americas. Also, there have been records that he has written about the advantage hemp has over tobacco, in regards to its use, labor and land.
Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills that processed hemp into parchment. This hemp paper was not only used for distribution, but also for writing the first drafts of many important historical documents – the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” the Federalist Papers (and Anti-Federalist Papers), the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution.
I think you’re getting the point. So, I’m going to just stop here before I write a novel. So the gist is that, historically speaking, hemp was quite important.
“High” on health, for real! Hemp is one of the healthiest plants on earth. It is naturally resistant to pests, meaning there is no need for pesticides in its cultivation, making it all the more healthy! So, what are the health benefits you ask? Well, let’s just say health benefits galore!
Hemp is one of the most complete proteins in the plant kingdom. It contains all 21 known amino acids (building blocks of protein). Yes, this mean it has all the 9 essential amino acids that our body cannot produce alone. Exactly why it’s the perfect protein. A side note: proteins are responsible for making neurotransmitters, which make up the essential internal messaging service that send the signals around our body to make it function. THUS — SUPER IMPORTANT! And, making hemp a SUPERFOOD!
Hemp contains the perfect balance of omega essential fats. In other words, nature’s perfect ratio — 3:1 ration of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. This balance of fatty acids promotes heart health.
Hemp is a rich source of GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid), which is shown to help people with skin disorders, PMS, menopause, cancer, arthritis, heart disease and is known to have good anti-inflammatory benefits.
Hemp is a high fiber food — rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber helping to keep the colon clear.
Hemp provides an array of phytonutrients and essential minerals.
- Vitamins: E, D, B6, B3, B2, B1, and A.
- Minerals: Zinc, Potassium, Phosphorus, Manganese, Magnesium, Iron and Calcium
…On to the kitchen…
So, there are a variety of ways hemp can be used in the kitchen - hemp oil, hemp milk, hemp seed, hemp hearts, hemp tea, hemp flour, hemp powder, etc! Needless to say, there are A LOT of ways to use hemp. I think it's safe to say that one of the most common ways to use hemp is in its seed or hearts form. That’s right. They are different. Hemp seed is the actual seed of the plant and has hard nut-like exterior with a soft chewy inside. Because of its hard texture, they are great for making crunchy snacks or garnishing, rather than for cooking. Think sunflower seed texture.
Hemp hearts, on the other hand, are the raw, hulled hemp seeds. They are the soft, chewy center found inside the shell of the seed. The hearts have a subtle nutty flavor and are great for toasting, cooking or even eaten raw as a garnish. Hemp hearts are what you would generally find at your local supermarket. Both the seed and the heart are easily digestible proteins. Their nutrients and nutty flavor make a perfect substitute for those with a soy and/or peanut allergy.
Just when you're thinking hemp couldn’t get any better, it’s versatility outside the kitchen just blows your mind. As mentioned before, the hemp plant is naturally resistant to pests, meaning there is no need for pesticides in its cultivation. And, it can grow in a variety of climates and soil types. Not to mention, it requires a lot less water to grow in comparison to most other crops. Now, that just seems like the perfect crop to me!
Hemp can be used to replace cotton in clothing. Its fibers are about 3 times more stronger than cotton, therefore, making it a more durable substitute. It can be used to replace our precious tree in paper making and distribution. It can be used as a biofuel to run vehicles and machinery. Hemp can even be used in making cosmetics! There are numerous ways that hemp can benefit our world in a health and more eco-friendly way! Thankfully, today the market is re-opening its eyes to the world of hemp and more and more products are being made with this “green” plant!
Stop by Pastificio and support the reintroduction of hemp into our modern day world by trying our new Hemp Dry Pasta! We will be waiting!