Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tasmanian hemp industry gets priority from State Government

By Lucy Shannon

Imported hemp was used to construct this house
This house at Table Cape in NW Tasmania was built using imported hemp

The establishment of an industrial hemp industry in Tasmania will be a government priority, State Minister for Primary Industries Jeremy Rockliff has pledged.
Farmers have been trying to grow industrial hemp for fibre for years but have struggled with regulatory hurdles.
Mr Rockliff said there was far too much red tape associated with growing hemp, more so even than with the pharmaceutical poppy industry.
"In terms of reporting and paperwork, so the balance is not right there ... we need to make it easier," he said.
However, Mr Rockliff said the fledgling industry also had a responsibility.
"It's up to the hemp industry to actually grow the markets; it's up to the Government to get out of the way to let them do it a bit easier," he said.
"It's in the developmental stage at the moment, but there's huge opportunity there in my view, both from a fibre point of view, which is a broader commodity, to that within food products."

Farmers, graziers favour hemp industry

Jan Davis from the Farmers and Graziers Association said the restrictions on growing hemp were unique to Tasmania.
We could sell as much hemp as we could grow tomorrow, it's the regulations that are stopping us from growing it on a commercial scale
Jan Davis, Farmers and Graziers Association
"You can grow industrial hemp in most other places in Australia without anywhere near the drama that goes on here, and that's bizarre because we are such ... reliable producers of opium poppies, which is clearly a more dangerous crop," she said.
Ms Davis said there was huge demand for hemp fibre based products that Tasmania was well placed to meet.
"We could sell as much hemp as we could grow tomorrow; it's the regulations that are stopping us from growing it on a commercial scale."

Talks on medical cannabis trials due

The discussion about industrial uses of hemp comes as a Tasmanian company is proposing growing cannabis in the state for medical use.
Tasman Health Cannabanoids hopes to run medical trials through the University of Tasmania soon.
State Health Minister Michael Ferguson is due to meet with the company tomorrow.
The highly successful poppy industry is cautious about the establishment of any hemp industry.
Glynn Williams from Poppy Growers Tasmania said he was concerned about Tasmania's reputation.
"Poppy growers and Tasmanian farmers are very proud of the fact that we have over the last four decades established a narcotic supply industry which has one of the best reputations you could get," he said.
"We have what we would consider a triple-A rating for safeguards and regulatory control.
"The last thing we want to see is young Tasmanians influenced by drug pushing dope smokers and so we've got to make sure as a community that we've got to have the right regulations and the right enforcement mechanisms to stop that from happening."

Nelson County (Virginia) Farm Owners Push for the Right to Grow Hemp


Two Nelson County farm owners are working to change the laws that keep them from growing a valuable cash crop because it comes from the same plant as marijuana.
They believe it could be the future for Virginia's farmers.
Jerry and Suzanna Thornton own a farm in Nelson County that they feel could be made profitable by growing hemp.
The crop is illegal to produce in Virginia because of its close relationship with marijuana.
“Industrial hemp doesn't have any THC. It's defined as less than point zero three percent THC, which you can relate to marijuana that has upwards of thirty percent,” said Jerry Thornton.
The Thornton’s say hemp could become a valuable cash crop, bringing in about $900 an acre.
“We don't want to see farms start being sold off or disappear because it's not financially beneficial,” said Suzanna Thornton.”
They're not alone. State Delegate Joseph Yost says he's heard from several people in his district and has decided to put forward a bill for the 2015 legislative session that would legalize hemp.
He says Virginia needs to start taking advantage of a multi-million dollar industry.
“Last year they imported about 800 million dollars’ worth of hemp to the united states from various countries like Canada, the Ukraine, Great Britain, and China, and we sold about 500 million dollars’ worth of hemp products in the country,” said Yost.
Aside from the economics, Yost says the plant has endless benefits with around 25,000 known uses.
The Thornton’s have started a business called commonwealth hemp.
Right now they operate as an informational blog, hoping soon they'll be able to grow and sell the real thing.
Delegate Yost plans to submit his bill on the first day of pre-filing for the next general assembly session.
If it passes, Virginia would become only the 10th state to allow the crop.

Michigan man has high hopes for hemp


Kevin Spitler runs the Toledo Hemp Center, a Sylvania Avenue storefront that sells products rich in CBD, a chemical found in hemp that’s associated with pain relief and muscle relaxation.

Kevin Spitler runs the Toledo Hemp Center, a Sylvania 
Avenue storefront that sells products rich in CBD, a chemical 
found in hemp that’s associated with pain relief and muscle relaxation. 

Kevin Spitler is Toledo’s homegrown hemp entrepreneur.
Mr. Spitler, 41, of Allegan, Mich., runs the Toledo Hemp Center. The small, white-walled Sylvania Avenue storefront sells everything from soaps and sprays to vapor pens and chewing gum, but all the products are rich in cannabidiol, or CBD — a chemical found in industrial hemp.
Everything’s legal, 100 percent. CBD can be derived from hemp or marijuana, but Food and Drug Administration regulations allow only the former. In practice, that means anyone over 18 can come buy a chocolate-hemp cake pop (with sprinkles, no less) from the big glass jar on the store counter.
Most customers are older folks, Mr. Spitler said. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the molecule that gets recreational pot smokers “stoned” — CBD is associated with physical effects such as pain relief and muscle relaxation.
Those health benefits are what center volunteer Linda Turvey swears by. CBD has helped her weather multiple ailments, she said, pointing to scars on her ankles and back. And the products have been helpful to her mother, a Parkinson’s patient.
“I’m very grateful to do things naturally and be much healthier,” Ms. Turvey said.
Mr. Spitler’s interest in CBD is personal too. Born in Toledo, he graduated from Start High School in 1971. While working in a factory 10 years ago, he suffered an electrical shock, the effects of which he said cannabis helped him overcome. Following the accident, he left Ohio for Michigan for its medical marijuana program.
His mother, back home and sick from pancreatic cancer, was another medical marijuana user. Mr. Spitler brought her cannabis products from Michigan until her death in October. It was illegal, he said, but it was also his mother.
The two experiences motivated Mr. Spitler to enter the business full-time.
“There’s a lot of families out there that don’‍t have a Kevin,” he said.
Mr. Spitler opened the Med Joint Community Compassion Center, a medical marijuana dispensary near Kalamazoo, in 2011. But its doors closed two years later when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled against patient-to-patient cannabis sales. He keeps the cards he used to indicate the types of marijuana he sold — “Blue Gum,” “Sweet Island,” “Vanilla Kush” — tucked away in his new hemp center office.
The Toledo Hemp Center at 1419 W. Sylvania Ave. isa partnership between Mr. Spitler and a younger brother, opened in November, 2013. Mr. Spitler estimates its current customer base is about 300 people.
But his ambitions extend beyond that — he said he plans on “creating an industry” in Toledo, where he soon hopes to return as a resident. His goals include partnering with local universities to grow hemp within Ohio, taking advantage of relaxed provisions under the latest farm bill. And he is involved with pro-pot activism across the state, sitting on the board of the Ohio Rights Group and hosting fund-raisers to benefit the northwest Ohio chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Clipboards about both groups sit on the counter, next to the cake pops.
For now though, Mr. Spitler is focused on a legal buzz, maintaining hemp and CBD can inspire a broader shift in how we approach our health.
“People are realizing you don’‍t have to take a pill every time,” he said.

Growing Like a Weed; MSU industrial hemp crop thriving in no-till conditions

By John Wright

MSU hemp no till
JOHN WRIGHT / Ledger & Times
Murray State University Farm Manager Jason Robertson is shown 
Thursday standing in a plot of shoulder-high industrial hemp plants 
in an undisclosed location. This plot was planted using no-till technique 
and the performance of the plant so far seems to have answered an 
anticipated question about hemp and no till.

On May 12, Murray State University made history by becoming the first entity of any type in the nation to legally place industrial hemp seeds in the ground as part of a statewide trial.
And as this was happening, one of the more anticipated tests had to do with how the crop would perform under no-till conditions. So far, the results seem to be mostly positive.
“Right now, that’s where are best plantings are. They’re shoulder high in places and they were only waist high a week ago,” said Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of MSU’s Hutson School of Agriculture. “One of the reasons we think that’s happening is because of better germination made possible by it raining real, real hard a few times since they were planted. It really got packed in where we worked the ground.
“We did do a second no-till planting after that and those seeds haven’t fared as well so we’re trying to see what happened there.”
Brannon admits that it is still very early in the process, but the results so far seem to confirm a widely-held belief that the plant is very tough to harm. One of those rainfalls of which Brannon spoke came in early June, resulting in very high winds that formed a macroburst north and east of Murray.
“Really, we’re not treating it any different from most of our other crops. You just put it in the ground, try to help it grow the best you can and see what happens,” said Jason Robertson, MSU’s farm manager. “We’re spraying for Japanese beatles right now, and those can be a problem for any plant.”
No-till farming is a type of planting designed to prevent soil erosion that does not involve plowing an entire field and revealing all dirt. With no-till farming, the planting process involves cultivating over existing grasses or crop residue, requiring careful placement of the seeds.
MSU became the first Kentucky college/university to put its seeds in the ground after Congress approved its farm bill earlier this year. That bill included a provision for colleges/universities to perform informational trials over a year’s time in which all participants will report on their findings at the end of that period.
Brannon said that provision was heavily pushed by Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer with support in Washington from both Kentucky United States senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.
State lawmakers passed legislation in advance of that action as well.
Industrial hemp has a growing period of 90 to 120 days. Shorter growing times would be to harvest seeds, while longer times will be geared toward obtaining the fiber.

Brannon said, at this time, he believes MSU’s plan is to aim at obtaining fiber, meaning harvest will not be until September or October.

A different kind of high


Heady ideas: A college field trip inspired seven friends to set up Bombay Hemp Company (Boheco) to create job opportunities for rural artisans and workers
Heady ideas: A college field trip inspired seven friends to set up Bombay Hemp Company 
(Boheco) to create job opportunities for rural artisans and workers. 

Seven college friends took up farming, and picked the non-drug industrial hemp as their crop of choice after stumbling upon a booming global industry around it
In 2010, students from Mumbai University’s HR College travelled to rural Maharashtra for a project to supply villages with solar lanterns. In that group were seven friends who saw in those vast fields, the unlit homes and simple rural lifestyle an immense potential waiting to be tapped. They resolved to work in the agriculture sector after completing their course.
When one of them, Jahan Peston Jamas, visited his family in Australia the following year, he returned with another valuable lesson — industrial (non-drug) hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant, was being used in that country to manufacture a range of products, from clothes to foodstuff and building material.
He and his friends researched and discovered that a huge global industry exists around the industrial hemp plant. They spent days understanding the legalities involving hemp and its use, besides travelling to farms in Maharashtra to understand how other crops are dealt with. By 2012, they had done enough groundwork, and in January 2013, the Bombay Hemp Company (Boheco) was born. “We chose hemp because of the varied uses it can be put to while employing a rural workforce, including artisans,” says Sanvar Oberoi, a co-founder of Boheco and its director for finance and digital technology.
The National Policy on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances, 1985, allows cultivation of cannabis for horticultural and industrial uses. The industrial hemp has only 0.3 per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, which causes the sedative effect). Around 10-12ft in height, the plant is not as much of a shrub or bush as its non-industrial variant, says Avnish Pandya, R&D director at the company.
Hemp is an ancient crop, believed to have been around for 5,000 to 6,000 years. In northern India, for centuries it was cultivated mainly as a subsistence crop. “We’ve modernised the techniques, making them more commercial,” says Yash Kotak, director of project and quality management.
Drapes naturally
Hemp can be used to make nearly 25,000 products including textiles, oil, milk, paper, biodegradable plastics, tofu, flour, protein powder, bio-fuel and construction material. “We want to create a new industry around hemp, beginning with the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter,” says Chirag Tekchandaney, the director of marketing and HR. So Boheco began with handloom fabrics.
The company collects hemp fibre from growers in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. “Then local artisans weave the cloth for us. We also work with Himalayan Nettle (a perennial plant), which grows in those regions,” says Kotak.
Boheco sells hemp fabric alongside its blends with wool, silk and organic cotton, besides Himalayan Nettle, at ₹650 to ₹850 per metre. Its 100 per cent hemp shirts are now sold online at ₹2,487 each. “It is not fair to compare it with other fabrics as the industry is at a very nascent stage, with no economies of scale,” says Tekchandaney.
Nevertheless, the fabric is a hit with designers, export houses and fashion schools. “We are approaching people who are tomorrow’s designers, as it is easier to convince them than those using age-old fabrics,” says Kotak.
Green building block
Work is on to create hempcrete, a hemp-based composite material useful in construction as well as insulation, but one that cannot be a substitute for concrete. It is a more environment-friendly alternative to red bricks, which are manufactured using soil needed for agriculture.
Boheco is collaborating with an Ahmedabad-based company for hempcrete. “We are developing a binder that uses hemp. It is a breathable walling material and is in the testing stages,” says Sumit Shah, Boheco’s director of operations and supply chain.
Chew on this
The third component of Boheco’s strategy is the edible one. While hemp flowers can be used in biscuits and cookies, the seeds are a good source of protein and essential fatty acids.
“The protein content in hemp is of a much better quality,” says Delzaad Deolaliwala, director of cultivation and legal corporate affairs.
The company is ready with its hemp food products, but is awaiting government approval. Hemp belongs to a list of novel items that require a licence. “The licence is pending at the final level. It (the products) will take another two months to retail in the market,” says Deolaliwala.
They are also experimenting with a natural, wild offspring of hemp that doesn’t require care and monitoring. “We are developing a breed of seed with an agricultural research institute, besides importing seeds from other parts of the world for study,” says Pandya. Boheco aims to have a standardised seed for commercial cultivation.
The journey so far has been far from easy. “No one else has worked with this crop in India. To create a product, we have to work with policymakers, research institutes as well as farmers to build the whole ecosystem from scratch,” says Oberoi.
So far this group of friends have relied on their financial savings from the jobs they held at various companies between 2011 and 2013. “We have been approached by investors, but bootstrapping is better due to the uniqueness of this idea and its potential. We are building a long-term future and we can manage without investors,” Oberoi declares confidently.

Miner tackles hemp business


A division of Next Gen organizes conferences to build investment and business-to-business opportunities in the industrial hemp sector, as well as in medical marijuana and alternative medicine.  |  File photo
A division of Next Gen organizes conferences to build investment 
and business-to-business opportunities in the industrial hemp sector, 
as well as in medical marijuana and alternative medicine. | File photo

Harry Barr has spent nearly 40 years raising funds and cutting deals in the global mining industry.
However, in the back of his mind, Barr was always pondering the potential of a different opportunity: industrial hemp.
Barr, who was raised on an farm in the Ottawa Valley near Renfrew, Ont., finally decided to pursue his dormant passion about five months ago when he restructured one of his existing mining companies to form Next Gen. The new enterprise provides venture capital and financing expertise for the industrial hemp, medical marijuana and alternative medicine industries.
“What we can do is what we do in mining,” the venture capitalist said.
“We have a brand new industry that needs a lot of capital.”
As part of that effort, Barr and his colleagues created a division of Next Gen called Green Rush Financial Conferences in March.
The new entity will facilitate investment and business-to-business opportunities in the medical marijuana, industrial hemp and alternative medicine sectors.
Green Rush held its initial conference May 7 in Vancouver and will hold a second event June 26 in Toronto.
“We put financiers with industrial hemp people who want to build their businesses,” he said.
“They’re in food sales, hempcrete … all of this stuff and they want to build to something bigger.”
Anndrea Hermann, who works in business development for Hemp Technologies Global, which grows, processes and sells hemp products directly to consumers, said the Vancouver event was a success.
“(It) allowed us, the Hemp Industries Association, to present our mission and to showcase our member products.”
Barr has always been intrigued by hemp because he has a family connection to the crop.
His grandfather, also named Harry Barr, grew hemp on the family farm in the 1930s and 1940s.
“(He) grew industrial hemp for the War Act. They used what (my grandfather) grew off the farm to make rope for the soldiers and the sailors.”
When Barr was a young man, his father often shared the family’s history of growing hemp. His father always made a distinction between hemp and marijuana.
“He used to point to a field and say … ‘I hope you’re not smoking what your grandfather used to grow,’ ” Barr said.
“It (hemp) wasn’t the stuff that makes you kids crazy, it was something different.”
After earning an agribusiness degree at the University of Guelph, Barr’s future was altered when his uncle invested in a gold mine in Colombia.
“So my path went from agriculture … into mining most of my career.”
After completing more than 40 deals with major mining companies and hundreds more with mid-size and junior firms, Barr was ready for a new opportunity, which led him to the hemp and medical marijuana sector.
“About a year or so ago, we decided to take one of the four companies I had … into a different business.”
Hemp growers and processors typically emphasize that the crop is not the same as marijuana, but Barr decided to pursue venture capital for both industries because he sees a huge potential for medicinal marijuana.
“I believe more and more in what medical marijuana can do, for the people who need it,” he said.
“Talking to some of the doctors … all of the things I’m learning, I think there’s a lot more to it.”
Barr said hemp and medical marijuana represent a massive opportunity.
“I’m learning as we go, but I do know we have a multibillion-dollar new industry in this country.”
Following the Toronto event in late June, Green Rush Financial Conferences plans to hold similar gatherings in the United States and Europe.

Hemp crop takes root in Kentucky

By Gregory A. Hall

(Photo: Alton Strupp/The Courier-Journal)

A month after the seeds for Kentucky's first legal hemp crop were released to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, hundreds of leafy plants are growing in research fields across Kentucky.
After initial fears that government holdups on delivering the seed would limit growers' ability to get a good crop, seeds were released and planted around Memorial Day — beating a June 1 mark set by the Kentucky organizers of new trials to avoid significantly reduced yields.
Holly VonLuehrte, a spokeswoman for the state agriculture department said initial growing reports are good — shoulder high already in at least one location — and those assessments are echoed by two of the growers interviewed.
"The research will show that this is a crop that grows well in Kentucky, but particularly well out west at least thus far," VonLuehrte said. "All indications are it's not just doing well," it's doing "extremely well."
"Hemp certainly grows well in Kentucky's climate, Kentucky's soil types," said Katie Moyer of the Kentucky for Hemp group, and who is growing the plant in Christian County. "We're seeing that it works really well for erosion."
Politically, the crop that has been in the ground for a month has been years in the making politically.
Kentucky's legislature passed a law in 2013 sought by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to make the state among the first to grow industrial hemp if federal law — which treated hemp like its more potent cousin, marijuana — ever allowed it.
Then Congress passed this year's Farm Bill, allowing states that have passed such laws to conduct pilot programs through their agriculture departments and universities.
The Kentucky agricultural department's main seed shipment was then detained by federal officials at Louisville International Airport for more than a week.
The state sued the U.S. government in federal court to get the shipment released, saying potential yields from the hemp seeds already had been hurt by the delay and planting beyond June 1 could result in a crop that wouldn't produce meaningful research results.
The Kentucky department ultimately registered and received a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration so the shipment could be delivered. VonLuehrte said a procedure is nearly developed and the case — which is still pending — might be dismissed.
"I think we're going to settle our case because we will have gotten everything we wanted," she said. "We've got a process with the DEA that's in place now and we're very, very close to an agreement on a standard process that we will use every time we need to import."
The department also is getting a nearly 900-pound seed shipment from Canada for a handful growers who want to proceed this year even though it is later in the growing season, VonLuehrte said.
Now that the crop is in the field, the issue will become what to do with what's grown when it's harvested.
VonLuehrte said the universities have received inquiries from processors who would like the hemp, while at least one grower has a buyer. The department has to review any sales contract, she said.
Plots in Christian County being grown by Moyer will be bought by Wisconsin businessman Ken Anderson, who is a distributor for Italian hemp seeds being used in Kentucky and for businesses that use the finished product.
Kentucky's hemp could be used to make concrete for construction and highway sound barriers, automotive matting and insulation for homes.
By virtue of helping bring in the Italian seed, Anderson said he gets to buy any of the hemp grown from those seeds or must approve any other sales. He's hoping to get it all, if the state agriculture department allows the universities involved in those projects to sell the plants.
"We want every plant that's grown," he said in a telephone interview. "I could use all of that and about a thousand times more."
Anderson said he already plans to pay Moyer "fair market value" for the plants based on the Canadian market.
Moyer's crop, planted more than three weeks ago, is now a little more than a foot high.
A hemp field at the University of Kentucky was planted May 27.
UK turfgrass researcher David Williams, who is helping oversee the project, said the harvest likely will be in October, just after the first killing frost. It also will depend on the plants' maturity, he said.
Since the UK seeds came from Italy, which is more Mediterranean in climate, Williams said, "We don't know how well they'll perform here. So far, it's fine."
Williams said that UK researchers originally planned to do a trial where small hemp plants would be grown in small containers like tobacco and then transplanted to the ground — but because of the delay in the seed delivery, they decided just to drill it into a field on UK's farm near the Kentucky Horse Park.
The field is visible from the nearby highway, Iron Works Pike, but the plants currently are dwarfed by nearby miscanthus.
Williams said part of the UK crop will be treated with herbicide — though he doubts it will need it — to see how the plant handles it. The herbicide would be experimental since he said no products are specifically designed for hemp. The three major pests it faces are fungi, insects and weeds, he said.
Now, it's a matter of monitoring its growth until the harvest.
Williams said his almost 90-year-old father-in-law grew hemp when it was allowed and laughs now at how it was harvested by hand then — with seed harvesting being a two-man job where one person held as many plants as possible and the other beat them with a tobacco stick to shake off the seeds. Williams said mechanized equipment now can cut and bale and combines harvest only the seed.
But, back then, it was "horribly labor intensive to harvest," Williams said, adding his father-in-law "does not have fond memories — but he does remember it."

Cows no longer have a monopoly on milk

By Jennifer Van Allen

Just a few years ago, the term “milk” was synonymous with the stuff that came from cows.
But now the dairy market is awash in plant-based alternatives made from soy, rice, almonds, coconut and hemp, driven largely by consumers’ thirst for low-calorie, low-sugar, lactose-free companions for their morning cereal and coffee.
Milk alternatives make up just 8 percent of overall milk sales in the United States, but for the past few years, they’ve represented the fastest-growing part of the dairy market, according to Mintel, a Chicago-based research firm. Sales of milk alternatives rose to nearly $2 billion in 2013, up 30 percent since 2011, driven in large part by the popularity of almond milk. In that same period, the entire milk category grew by just 1.8 percent, to $24.5 billion, according to Mintel. Nondairy milk’s growth is expected to continue outpacing dairy milk’s at least through 2018.
Plant-based alternatives can be a saving grace for people with food allergies or lactose intolerance, or those who follow vegan diets. (An estimated 12 percent of Americans suffer from lactose intolerance, according to the National Institutes of Health.)
Probably the more powerful factor driving the popularity of milk substitutes is a consumer group that Sandy Krueger of IRI Worldwide, a Chicago-based market research firm, calls the “healthy chic”: people who look at labels and are drawn to products that promise to improve health and wellness.
“There’s a sort of health halo” to plant-based milks, Krueger says. “There’s a general perception that they’re healthier than cow’s milk, and taste better.”
With the proliferation of new flavors and varieties — 52 new milk-substitute products have been rolled out so far in 2014 — the growth is sure to continue, she says.
The nutrition profile of each milk substitute varies widely, so different products appeal to people with different health priorities, says Jessica Crandall, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
People counting calories might reach for almond milk, which has less than half the calories of skim milk, and no sugar. Those who want to boost protein intake may choose soy milk, which has eight grams of protein per serving, as much as cow’s milk. Some drink kefir — a fermented, fortified dairy drink — because it contains probiotics, which help digestion and defend against gastrointestinal distress. Hemp milk, made from the hemp seed, can be a good option for kids with food allergies who need a source of calcium or protein, Crandall says. It also has essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6, which help build healthy cells and reduce risk of heart disease.
But just because a milk is plant-based doesn’t mean it’s healthful.
While many plant-based milks are fortified, some don’t contain as much calcium or vitamin D as cow’s milk, which is important in preventing osteoporosis. Crandall says you can supplement with such foods as kale, chia seeds, edamame and sardines, which are packed with calcium and vitamin D.
Stick with pasteurized, unsweetened varieties of milk alternatives, Crandall says. One cup of Almond Breeze chocolate milk, for instance, has 20 grams of sugar, as much as there is in a Cadbury Creme Egg.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest cautions consumers to read labels closely and beware of milk substitutes that ride the health benefits of the plant they’re derived from even if the milk isn’t as nutritious as the whole food. For instance, while an ounce of almonds has about six grams of protein, almond milk has only one gram per one-cup serving.
In the kitchen, each milk substitute is suited for different uses. Hemp milk, for instance, is a good choice for cappuccinos and lattes because it froths better than other plant-based varieties, says Megan Roosevelt a registered dietitian in Portland, Ore., who runs Healthy Grocery Girl, a Web site that offers advice on food shopping and healthy living. Because of its thick, creamy consistency, soy milk is ideal in smoothies and for cooking and baking. Almond milk, milder in flavor and thinner in texture, tastes good in coffee, tea, smoothies or on its own. Rice milk has the thinnest consistency of all nondairy milks and can be a good accompaniment for cereal or smoothies.
The proliferation of milk substitutes hasn’t gone unnoticed by the marketers of cow’s milk. A variety of dairy-milk products with added protein and probiotics have recently hit store shelves. In February, the dairy-milk processors rolled out a $50 million ad campaign that promotes milk’s high protein content.
Calcium has been milk’s traditional nutritional advantage over other beverages. But by focusing on protein and all of its implicit benefits — protein increases satiety, assists in weight management and builds muscle mass — dairy-milk producers have seized on a way to stay culturally relevant for parents, aging boomers and seniors.
The so-called Milk Life campaign replaces the “Got Milk?” campaign, which began in 1995. New commercials feature kids, teens and adults drinking milk to power everything from break dancing to dog walking. “This is what eight grams of protein can do,” the ads proclaim
In consumer research, the message about milk’s high-protein content was the one most likely to win over consumers now drinking juice, water or soda, says Victor Zaborsky, marketing director for the Milk Processor Education Association, which represents 200 dairy-milk companies. “It really emphasized the benefits that dairy milk had over alternative beverages,” he says.
“Traditionally, milk has been an unconscious choice, just something you put in your coffee or cereal,” Zaborsky says. “Now we’re trying to shift it so that dairy milk is a conscious choice consumers routinely make to improve their quality of life for the long term.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A tip for American farmers: Grow hemp, make money

By Doug Fine

Hemp farmers
Would-be hemp farmers are having mixed success navigating red tape
on everything from seed acquisition to processing the finished plant.
(Pablo Alcala / AP)

After a 77-year break, hemp plants are growing in American soil again. Right now, in fact. If you hear farmers from South Carolina to Hawaii shouting "God bless America," the reason isn't because Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper (he did). Nor is it because the canvas that put the "covered" in pioneer covered wagons was made of hemp, nor that the hemp webbing in his parachute saved George H.W. Bush's life in World War II.

Nope. It's because U.S. policy is finally acknowledging that hemp can help restore our agricultural economy, play a key role in dealing with climate change and, best of all, allow American family farmers to get in on a hemp market that, just north of us in Canada, is verging on $1 billion a year.
Hemp is a variety of cannabis — and thus a cousin of marijuana — that contains 0.3% or less of the psychoactive component THC. (Marijuana plants typically contain 5% to 20% THC.) You can't get high from hemp, but starting in 1937, U.S. drug laws made cultivating it off-limits.

Finally, the U.S. hemp industry is back. A provision in the 2014 farm bill signed by President Obama on Feb. 7 removed hemp grown for research purposes from the Controlled Substances Act, the main federal drug law.

Not a moment too soon. American farmers have been watching as Canadian farmers clear huge profits from hemp: $250 per acre in 2013. By comparison, South Dakota State University predicts that soy, a major crop, will net U.S. farmers $71 per acre in 2014.
Canada's windfall has been largely due to the American demand for omega-balanced hempseed oil. But hemp is also a go-to material for dozens of applications all over the world. In a Dutch factory recently, I held the stronger-than-steel hemp fiber that's used in Mercedes door panels, and Britain's Marks and Spencer department store chain used hemp fiber insulation in a new flagship outlet. "Hempcrete" outperforms fiberglass insulation.

Farmers I've interviewed from Oregon to Ohio have gotten the memo. In a Kansas-abutting corner of eastern Colorado, in the town of Springfield, 41-year-old Ryan Loflin wants to save his family farm with hemp. "It takes half the water that wheat does," Loflin told me, scooping up a handful of drought-scarred soil so parched it evoked the Sahara, "and provides four times the income. Hemp is going to revive farming families in the climate-change era."         
From an agronomic perspective, American farmers need to start by importing dozens of hemp varieties (known as cultivars) from seed stock worldwide. This is vital because our own hemp seed stock, once the envy of the world, was lost to prohibition. This requires diversity and quantity because North Dakota's soil and climate are different from Kentucky's, which are different from California's. Also, the broad variety of hemp applications requires distinct cultivars.

Legally, farmers and researchers doing pilot programs in the 15 states that have their own hemp legislation (including California) now have the right to import those seeds. The point of the research authorization in the farm bill is explicitly to rebuild our seed stock. Such research is how the modern Canadian hemp industry was kick-started in 1998.
But one final hurdle has been placed in front of American hemp entrepreneurs. In Kentucky, U.S. Customs officials, at the behest of the Drug Enforcement Administration, in May seized a 286-pound shipment of Italian hemp seed bound for the state's agriculture department. After a weeklong standoff, a federal agency had to be reminded by the federal courts that the law had changed and Kentucky's seed imports were legal.

The problem is as much an entrenched bureaucratic mind-set as the ink drying on the new federal hemp policy. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart told a law enforcement group last month that the hoisting of a hemp flag above the U.S. Capitol last July 4 was "the low point in my career."

It should have been a high point. Hemp's economic potential is too big to ignore. When he was China's president, Hu Jintao visited that nation's hemp fiber processors in 2009 to demand that farmers cultivate 2 million acres to replace pesticide-heavy cotton. Canada funded its cultivar research for farmers, with today's huge payoff.

Even Roger Ford, a politically conservative Kentucky utility owner, told me his Patriot BioEnergy's biofuels division would be planting hemp on coal- and tobacco-damaged soil the moment it was legal. Why? To use the fiber harvest for clean biomass energy. "We have a proud history of hemp in the South," Ford told me.

Congress knows the farm bill hemp provision is just a baby step. The real solution is the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), which would allow nationwide commercial hemp cultivation. Colorado, already ahead of federal law on legalizing psychoactive cannabis, is also in front on hemp; it has a state law allowing commercial hemp cultivation. At least 1,600 acres were planted this season.

Wyden's bill should be fast-tracked. In the meantime, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) believes hemp is so important for the Bluegrass State that he's not waiting for another brouhaha over seed imports. He added an amendment to a bill that controls the DEA's budget to specifically protect imported hemp seeds from seizure. It passed in the House 246 to 162 on May 30.

It's a necessary move: Just last week at the Canadian border, the DEA seized another shipment of hemp seeds, this time bound for Colorado farmers. This counterproductive nonsense must stop.
American farmers and investors need our support to catch up with Canada's and the rest of the world's hemp head start. Now. As Loflin put it when I toured his family's 1,200-acre Colorado spread, "I'm planting hemp to show my neighbors that small farmers have a real option as businesspeople in the digital age."

We're down to 1% of Americans farming; it was 30% when our world-leading hemp industry was stymied in 1937. The crop is more valuable today than it was then. We should be waving flags and holding parades for the farmers ready to plant the crop that Thomas Jefferson called "vastly desirable." I know I'm ready. To cheer, and to plant.

Hemp and bamboo meet stripes at Milan Fashion Week for Men


Bright, summery and perfectly tailored outfits made out of bamboo, hemp, nettles and even milk made up Kean Etro’s surprising spring-summer collection for men at Milan Fashion Week.

A tribute to Italian food and fashion, Etro’s show saw prints packed with pieces of dancing pasta and piles of seafood with digital photos of vegetables, lasagne and risotto coating his colorful collection.
“Banana jacket and shirts… you can make thread out of banana, same goes with cereals, you do the same thing with milk, with bamboo shoots, with nettles, with hemp of course, and the thing: is why are we doing this? To keep biodiversity running in agriculture. So yes, in fashion, yes, something that you eat, but at the same time taking care of resources because resources are limited,” said the designer.

Featuring a sunny palette of bright yellow, electric pink and turquoise, the show came to a close with a silk tracksuit covered in Etro’s favourite dish: spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams).
Gucci’s elegant Spring-Summer collection had a nautical theme and saw models take to the runway in pirate stripes and jackets with golden buttons.
A minimalist palette included navy blue, khaki, white and red with a glimpse of emerald green. Washed leather, two-tone canvas, cotton and denim featured heavily. Accessories included cross-body strap bags, loafers and metal bracelets.

And there were stripes too, both fine and bold, for iconic Italian designer Giorgio Armani, whose Emporio Armani collection was dominated by black-and-white outfits featuring a strong graphic component.

Other offerings included monochrome sweatshirts and numerous backpacks and holdalls.
The silhouette was loose and easy, with pleated trousers or drawstring athletic pants. Zip-up jackets, parkas, pea coats and tight-fitting jackets dominated in natural fabrics like wool, cotton and silk.

Hemp Makes This Winery Green

By Christine Walsh

green roog

It is always nice to hear businesses creating their products in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, and the French winery Château Maris is a great example of it. Château Maris is an organic and biodynamic winery, since their cellar was constructed using bricks made of organic hemp and lime. They also installed a green roof and solar panels, meaning that Château Maris is now a net-zero energy building.


Château Maris is a 9,000-square-foot wine cellar that produces enough energy to meet its needs and is also biodegradable. The hemp bricks used in the construction process ensure consistent temperature and humidity in the structure, while they also absorb carbon from the surrounding environment. In other words, the winery needs no heating, cooling or ventilation systems to function optimally.

Hemp is a great building material, since it insulates, while remaining breathable, meaning that, in the case of the winery, it keeps the structure warm in winter and cool in the summer, and always in the optimal temperature range of 54°-63°F. The structure also has two exterior walls, which are connected by an air tunnel that is also well insulated against extreme temperatures. Should additional airflow be required to lower the heat that is created by the fermentation process of wine creation, there is also a manual duct in the cellar’s roof, which can be opened and closed at need.


The winery owners decided to use hemp and lime to build their cellar after careful research, which took them about five years. During this time they carefully evaluated all other natural building options, such as stone, earth and even straw. In the end they chose hemp, because it is locally produced and the least expensive. Also, hemp bricks are very light, with a 2-foot brick only weighing about 33 pounds. This makes transporting them very easy. Hemp brick production is also very sustainable, since after the addition of lime, which hardens hemp straw into bricks, the chemical transformation into limestone carbonate captures and sequesters carbon.

So, Château Maris is both biodegradable and sequesters around 44 kilos per square meter of carbon, which it will continue to do for the next 20-25 years. The winery is also currently in the process of applying for a LEED-Platinum certification. Apart from the sustainable nature of the building, the cellar was also fitted with LED lighting, while they also have systems in place to capture rainwater, and to recycle gray water.

But that’s not all. The winery also uses only recycled glass bottles and recycled paper labels for their products. They also donate $1.50 from each bottle sold to the Jane Goodall Institute, the Rainforest Foundation or International Polar Foundation. Château Maris has plans to sell 300,000 bottles of wine to high-end restaurants such as NYC’s Waldorf Astoria this year alone.