Hemp Milk – A Better, Healthier Choice

By  Dion Markgraaff

Over the last few years, hemp milk has gone from an idea of cannabis activists to five different national companies that offer different varieties like vanilla, chocolate, sugar free, and even an organic line. In 2008, natural and organic food items registered $29.7 billion in sales in the U.S., which is up 11.4% from 2007, according to the Nutrition Business Journal information reported by the Natural Products Association. The newest major player in the hemp milk market is Trader Joe’s. Today, there is also ice-cream (sold nationally) with more companies jumping on the hemp bandwagon.

Just follow the facts and numbers; Hemp Food = #1
There are many reasons for this explosion, but the biggest one is because cannabis/hemp seeds are the best food on the planet for people (and also most animals). The cannabis seed is a “super-food”. In nutritional value, the much hyped health benefits of fish and flax trail behind hemp. Most of today’s top fitness advisers (Andrew Weil, M.D., TV gurus Martha Stewart and Dr. Oz) recommend daily consumption. Hemp is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family because the seeds of this plant are the best source of protein, rich in all 10 essential amino acids. It is the best source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, which support energy production, nervous system function, brain development, heart health and a healthy immune system. Hemp is also one of the few food sources that contain GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid), which we need in order to maintain a healthy cellular growth. GLA has been shown to help maintain heart health, healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and aid in hormonal balance. In health and disease, it is important how our cells develop. There is nothing that compares to hemp seeds for the proper energy our bodies need.

Hemp protein consists primarily of the two proteins: edestine and albumin. These globular (blood) proteins, which are readily digestible proteins (the most efficient ones), have direct access to enter the muscles quickly. However, hemp is also packed with other nutrients, including: chlorophyll and vitamin E, important B vitamins, folic acid (important for women who are trying or may become pregnant), phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium, which are involved in energy metabolism, protein and bone synthesis. Hemp foods have a high content of antioxidants (92.1 mg/100g) in the form of alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienol.   Most seeds contain large amounts of LA (Linoleic Acid), which is from the omega-6 family, but ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), which comes from the omega-3 family, is typically a little harder to get. The essential fatty acids (EFAs) in hemp are both short and long chain, making for a broader spectrum and working together to ensure your body has an effective metabolism.  According to the World Health Organization, the ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is 4:1. Hemp has a ratio of 3.75:1, but a typical modern day diet has a ratio more like 1/10. The well-balanced hemp “fat” not only fights diseases, but it also helps you BURN fat.

The list is long in regards to how hemp seeds help people develop lean body mass, promote muscular repair, prevent cancer and cardiac deaths, nourish underdeveloped infants, in addition to stopping arthritis, atherosclerosis  and many skin diseases. In an article by Mathew G. Kadey MSc., RD, “Hemp Protein – The King of the Plant Kingdom”, he states how hemp is so good that it is a “nutraceutical”. Kadey states, “The term ‘nutraceutical’ was coined from ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceutical’ in 1989 by Stephen DeFelice, MD, founder and chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM), Cranford, NJ. According to DeFelice, nutraceutical can be defined as a food (or part of a food) that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and/or treatment of a disease.” This is why every medical cannabis dispensary should sell hemp oil and seeds to their members. There are other foods made with hemp that are now on the market, including cereals, waffles, and snack bars. However, hemp milk is the best liquid for your body’s health and the best “bang for your buck”.

5 different national brands on the market today
One of the global leaders in the hemp milk market is the Living Harvest Foods, Inc., founded in 2002. The company’s website states how “Tempt” hemp milk came into being. This seed of an idea for Tempt dates back over a decade to a time when science, education and creativity merged. It happened at the University of Saskatchewan where scientists seeking a new source of vegetable protein began doing experiments with hemp. These enlightened Canadian researchers discovered the protein potential locked away within the hemp seed. The balanced combination of essential fatty and amino acids provided a nutritional profile unlike any other vegetable. The Center for Food Science’s breakthrough gave us a brilliant and sustainable food source, which can be cultivated without negative environmental impact. Celebration ensued. –Now fast forward to the Pacific Northwest. Freedom loving, environmentalist, hempfood pioneers moved the fledgling company to Portland, Oregon. Connections were made with other hemp visionaries, actors, rock stars, natural foods champions, inventors, mad scientists, revolutionaries and hopeless optimists – Tempt was born. Living Harvest Foods was recently recognized by INC. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in Oregon. This company is the first major manufacture of hemp ice cream, also called Tempt, with five different varieties.

Two major food industry corporations have come out with their own milk made from hemp seeds. “Hemp Dream” comes from the decades-old “Rice Dream” company, famous for their milk made from rice. The aspect that makes this company’s hemp milk stand out is the tie-dye packaging their “original” and “vanilla” flavors are in. This company’s move to have their own hemp milk reinforces the cannabis plant’s growing power in the milk market. The other company is Pacific, one of the biggest companies in the natural food industry. It has had two different types on the market for almost two years.

The most “rootsy” company in the hemp milk market is the industry-leading pioneers of Manitoba Harvest, which calls itself “the largest, vertically-integrated hemp food manufacturer” in the world. Its other products include hemp butter, oil, protein powder and seeds. They are mostly responsible for making Canada the world leading country when it comes to the hemp food industry. From the beginning, the company has brought in and united local farmers (some as part owners), manufactures wholesalers and retailers. Hemp farming has grown significantly to 25,000 acres across Canada with most of it being produced in the province of Manitoba. The company had contracts with local farmers for 10,000 acres last year, which is up from 100 acres 12 years ago. Founded in 1998, Manitoba Harvest currently has annual sales of $10 million, but expects higher future sales with their 20 different hemp products. In the fall of 2010, their business received a big boost with a new $75 million dollar investment that is partially backed by Farm Credit Canada. The company has grown annually by 50% – 70% and has been on Canada’s 100 List of the Fastest Growing Businesses for four of the last five years. Sales have grown by 500% in the last five years. Manitoba’s hemp milk is called “Hemp Bliss” and is the only organic line. They have four different types: original, chocolate, vanilla, and an unsweetened variety.

The newest company manufacturing milk made from hemp is Trader Joe’s. This is a huge step for the entire hemp industry because of the enormous size and distribution power of this company. Surprisingly, it is one of the best tasting milks on the market and certainly the cheapest right now. And Trader Joe’s is getting their hemp seeds from Manitoba Harvest.

Another company worth knowing about, even though they do not make hemp milk (but they do have 3 different hemp shake mixes), is California-based hemp pioneers, Nutiva. Founded back in 1999, this business has a wide variety of organic hemp food products, including various varieties of Hemp Protein, HempShake™, Hemp Bars, and Hemp Oil, in addition to a bulk wholesaler of dehulled hemp seeds. It specializes in 2 other products: coconut oil and chia. INC. Magazine put Nutiva on its list of 5,000 Fastest Growing Businesses in 2009 and 2010. Their products are sold in over 6,000 stores in Canada and the U.S., including Whole Foods, Henry’s and other retailers. Also, you can order at Nutiva.com

Other strong reasons for taking over the milk market – Hemp is better than the competition!
Besides the many beneficial health reasons to consume hemp seeds in milk and ice cream, the “competition” from cow and soy milk (the two main players in the milk market) are bad choices for the consumer and the environment.  The dairy industry in the U.S. in 2008, measured by gross income of the farm level, was more than $35 billion. California is the nation’s largest producer of cow milk, which is low in calcium and protein.  Drinking cow milk is a risk because it is stuffed with a cocktail of hormones, including rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone): a genetically engineered hormone directly linked to breast, colon and prostate cancer. This is injected into cows to increase milk production. Other stuff you might not be aware of; Pus: National averages show that there are at least 322 million cell-counts of pus per glass! The pus comes from infected udders on the cow known as mastitis. Blood Cells: The USDA allows up to 1.5 million white blood cells per milliliter of commonly-sold milk. Antibiotics: Currently, cows are in such a state of disease and mistreatment that they are continually being injected with antibiotic medicines and rubbed down with chemical-laden ointments to deal with their chronic infections.  Peta.org says, “A cow’s natural lifespan is about 25 years, but cows used by the dairy industry are killed after only four or five years. An industry study reports that by the time they are killed, nearly 40% of dairy cows are lame because of the intensive confinement, filth, and strain of being almost constantly pregnant and giving milk.”

After cow milk, many people have turned to soy milk for ethical reasons, vegetarians looking for a plant-based alternative and/or the many people who are lactose intolerant. Today, soy milk dominates the non-cow, plant-based milk selling over a billion dollars a year. From 1996 to 2009, soy food sales in general have increased from $1 billion to $4.5 billion. However, there are dangers associated with soy milk consumption because of the process used in making the product and the ingredients used in it. At Buzzle.com, Palmira S. writes, “Some of the dangers reported from soy milk are high in phytic acids, which causes low absorption of certain minerals and vitamins. The level of phytoestrogen is high in soy milk, which decreases the testosterone present in the male body. It also affects the production of sperm. Phytoestrogen also leads to early puberty and early developments of adolescents. In females, soy milk can lead to abnormalities in the reproductive tract, which can give rise to infertility. Isoflavones present in soy milk causes diseases like leukemia and breast cancer. It can also cause thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer. People who consume soy milk very often can suffer from autoimmune thyroid disease. The presence of toxic aluminum in the milk can also affect the nervous system and the kidneys in a negative way. Soy milk can also contribute to endometrial cancer in females. In some cases, it also causes dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, colitis, and may increase or decrease the pulse rate. Some of the soy milk dangers for children are learning disorders, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, etc. It can also cause pancreatic and growth related problems. At times, the amount of manganese present in soy milk is large enough to cause damage to the cortex. It also contributes to skin problems like sudden and severe eczema, acne, blisters, canker sores, swelling and hives. In severe cases, it can also cause a problem in swallowing or cause anaphylactic shock. The protein enzyme inhibitors present in soy milk block the action of trypsin and enzymes, which are required for protein digestion. In some cases, it can give rise to chronic pain; typically, people suffering from asthma are prone to this kind of disorder. If soy milk is consumed in large amounts, it can lead to stomach problems. The soy milk estrogen is harmful to babies.”

Healingdaily.com goes even further to say,
“It is child abuse to feed a baby soy formula. A baby fed soy will receive, through the phytoestrogens, the equivalent of approximately 5 birth control pills per day! The damage is incalculable.” There are other reasons to stay away from soy. A very large percentage of soy (over 90%) is genetically modified and it also has one of the highest percentages of contamination by pesticides of any of the foods we eat. The website goes on about how soy is processed, “Production takes place in industrial factories where soybeans are first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash, and finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution. Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final product. As a result, soy-based formula has over 1000% more aluminum than conventional milk-based formulas.”

Hemp is good for everyone
Hemp does not have these production problems. There are no allergies to hemp food, nor do they contain phytates, enzyme inhibitors, oligosaccharides, or have any anti-nutrients. Hemp seeds are vegan, some are also organic, and they are not genetically modified, yet. Hemp is easily grown without pesticides or herbicides, and it comes directly from nature. Throughout time, farmers used hemp as a “4th” crop in rotation with other foods to clean the soil of weeds and pests. Market research obtained by the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), collected by the market research firm SPINS, shows that hemp grocery sales grew in the sampled stores by 65% over the previous year (from August 2007 to August 2008). Make sure your local restaurant, grocery store and dispensary provides you and your neighbors with this important choice for everyone’s personal and planetary health. Vote with hemp food everyday for a better future for everyone.

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