By Enrico Mandarino
EVERYBODY IN HEMP
Ah, the glories of hemp. Hemp is frequently confused with marijuana though, so let’s clear up that up right away. While they have a similar leaf shape and are both grown from the species ‘cannabis’, hemp contains almost zero THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Hemp has been grown for over 12,000 years for fibre and food. Hemp is among one of the most productive and useful plants known to mankind and is very safe. There are at least 25,000 products that can be made from hemp, including paper, textiles, building materials, food, medicine, paint, detergent, varnish, oil, ink, and fuel.
Naturally, hemp has been prohibited in the United States since the 1950s.
Unlike many crops, hemp can be grown in most locations and climates with only moderate water and fertilizer requirements. With a relatively short growth cycle of 120 days, hemp is an efficient and economical crop for farmers to grow. Where hemp is grown, it has become a valuable and environmentally friendly crop because it requires limited pesticides, grows so quickly and attracts few pests.
The stalk of the hemp plant has two parts, the ‘bast’ and the ‘hurd’. The fiber (bast) of the hemp plant can be woven into almost any kind of very durable cloth. In fact, the very first Levi's blue jeans were made out of hemp for just this reason. Compared to all the other natural fibers available, durable hemp is more suitable for a larger number of applications. Hemp fiber blended with wool, cotton, linen or other fibers, adds strength, durability, absorbency and breathe-ability, making hemp-blended fabrics cool and comfortable to wear and touch. Some would say hemp is better than cotton. Cloth made from hemp is a little less soft than cotton, (though there are ways to grow or treat hemp to produce a soft cloth) but it is much stronger and longer lasting and doesn’t stretch out the way cotton does. Environmentally, hemp is a better crop to grow than cotton, especially the way cotton is grown nowadays. (In the US , half the total pesticides used are on cotton crops. Cotton is also a soil-damaging crop that needs a lot of fertilizer.)
Hemp fibers can be also be spun and woven into fine, crisp, linen-like fabric and used for apparel textiles, home furnishing textiles and carpeting, and hemp’s anti-mildew and antimicrobial properties make it very suitable for sails, tarps, awnings, and floor coverings.
Hot hemp fashion can be found in Toronto at The Friendly Stranger at 241 Queen Street West and THC at 637 Yonge Street .
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