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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sales of hemp foods have increased by at least 47 percent overall during the year since the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) successfully beat the Drug Enforcement Administration's attempt to ban hemp foods.
The sales data was collected by the market research firm SPINS but according to HIA under-represents actual sales due to the niche status of hemp foods. Nevertheless, the SPINS report shows that hemp food sales grew by at least $1.47 million to a total of $4.57 million from July 2004 to July 2005.
"Removing the cloud the DEA put on the hemp food marketplace spurred a surge in the supply and consumption of healthy omega-3-rich hemp seed in America," said David Bronner, chair of the HIA's Food and Oil Committee and president of Alpsnack/Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "By protecting the U.S. market for hemp foods we've experienced strong growth."
Advocacy group Vote Hemp says this increase in hemp food sales will help to make a stronger case that U.S. farmers should be able to supply the surging demand. "Walk into any health food store and you'll find an increasing variety of hemp foods," says Alexis Baden-Mayer, director of government affairs for Vote Hemp. "Americans are looking for healthy alternative sources of omega-3 to supplement their diets due to concerns regarding trace mercury in fish and fish oil supplements. Right now the U.S. marketplace is supplied by hemp seed grown and processed in Canada and Europe, but some members of Congress want to bring hemp farming back to the U.S."
At a Capitol Hill lunch on June 23 to mark the introduction of H.R. 3037, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005, about 100 Congressional staff feasted on Bahama Hempnut Crusted Wild Salmon and Fuji Fennel Hempseed Salad. The five-course gourmet hemp meal was prepared by executive chef Denis Cicero of the New York City-based Galaxy Global Eatery.
According to the HIA, Hemp seed is nutritious and contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug.