Cotton crops produce fibers that people can wear. Corn crops produce food that people can eat. Wood pulp can be turned into paper on which people can write. Hemp crops can be used to do all three. Highlighting its versatility, hemp has comprehensive applications both as seed and fiber. In its seed form, hemp can produce milk, oil, grains, breads and other food products that are naturally rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein. At the risk of perpetuating hippie stereotypes, vegetarians tend to love hemp for this reason as it provides nutrients more commonly available in meat. Meanwhile, as a fiber, hemp can be made into shirts, jeans and other fabric-based products in addition to ropes, sails, paper, biodegradable plastics and even building blocks.
Château Maris, a vineyard in southern France, recently built what might be the world’s first hemp cellar. The 9,000-square-foot complex consists primarily of organic hemp straw made into bricks that capture carbon dioxide (CO2), reduce soil erosion, require no pesticides or fertilizers and naturally maintain temperature and humidity levels without the use of air conditioners or heaters. In the U.S., The New York Times recently described a similar product called hempcrete as flexible, airtight yet breathable, impervious to mold and pests, fireproof and free from toxins. In 2013, Motive Industries introduced the Kestrel, dubbed the “World’s Most Eco-Friendly Car,” which the Canadian company made entirely out of hemp.