The Chinese have been eating hemp seed for 8,000 years, Buddha ate one seed every day on his path to enlightenment and ancient Russian nomads cultivated the crop for its protein rich oil. This non-drug variety of cannabis has managed to adapt to most climates and over many thousands of years has proven a practical, useful plant.
Hemp is going through a rejuvenation of sorts as more industries look for alternative materials, energies and practices in an attempt to serve our planet better. Hemp Plastics (UK) for example is using it as an alternative to petro-chemicals to produce sustainable, biodegradable forms of plastic.
Cultivating and processing hemp uses a lot less water than cotton - organic or not. A shirt made of 55% hemp, 45% cotton would save 2,800 litres of water. When it comes to paper, hemp produces four times the amount of pulp in 14 weeks as 30 years worth of trees grown on the same amount of land. As a strong, highly absorbent material, hemp is also a good non-textile material to insulate and protect.
With nearly 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids hemp oil
makes a great base for cosmetics. In moisturisers it soothes dry skin or scaling scalps, and can be used in body lotions, shampoos, massage oils and hair care products.
In nutritional terms hemp is high in protein, Gamma Linolenic Acid (the perfect balance of essential fatty acids), vitamins, minerals and enzymes. You can make bread, milk, yoghurt, oil, butter and snack bars with hemp seed as it has quite a tasty nutty flavour. This isn't surprising as the hemp seed is technically a nut!
Hemp is an annual plant that grows up to four metres tall and is very eco friendly to our land's soil for it grows relatively deep (2-3 meters) below the ground, drawing up previously untouched nutrients.