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By Sharon Palmer, R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter (Tribune Media Services)

In the past, hemp has gotten a bad rap because of its close relative, marijuana. However, while both plants are in the cannabis family, they’re very different. Unlike marijuana, hemp seeds contain only 0.001 percent of the active compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), thus hemp does not cause a psychoactive effect, and is completely safe. In fact, hemp has some distinct health and environmental benefits.

Growing Hemp

Since 1937, growing hemp has been prohibited in the U.S. because of confusion over its relationship to marijuana, although it can be sold here. In fact, hemp is a historic crop, used for a multitude of functions beyond food, such as textiles, paper, building supplies, and rope. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Today, most hemp is grown in Canada.

Interest in hemp cultivation is rising, partially because it’s very sustainable compared to other seed crops. Hemp is quick-growing, vigorous, and resistant to disease and insects, requiring lower inputs of fertilizers, water, and pesticides. And, unlike many seed crops, the hemp stalk can be used for its rich fiber source in products like textiles and building supplies, such as pressboard.

Concentrated Nutrition

Another reason hemp is on the rise is because of its unique nutrient profile. Hemp seeds provide 10 grams (g) of protein per ounce, as well as 10 g of heart-healthy, plant-based omega-3 and -6 fats, 3 g of fiber, and is a rich source of iron, thiamin, magnesium, zinc, and manganese.

Hemp oil, which is cold-pressed and unrefined, has a fat profile similar to the seed, containing only 1 g of saturated fat per tablespoon; most of the fat content is the healthy kind, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, with an impressive 2 g of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. When hemp is pressed into oil, powder, or “butter,” a unique emerald green color is released, signaling its rich chlorophyll compounds.

While the research on hemp is still in the early stages, there’s a lot to love about the nutritional value of this plant food. You can purchase hulled hemp seeds (some manufacturers call them hemp hearts), cold-pressed hemp oil, hemp plant-based milk, hemp butter (ground hemp seeds), and hemp powder (the milled protein fraction of hemp seeds) at many natural food stores.

Sprinkle hemp seeds over cereal and yogurt, stir them into home-made granola, toss them into salads, and mix them into baked goods. Use hemp oil in place of extra virgin olive oil in pesto, salad dressings, and pasta as a finishing oil (do not cook with this delicate oil; its smoking point is 350 degrees F.)

Whiz hemp powder and hemp milk into smoothies to increase their protein and nutrient value. And use hemp butter in place of peanut butter on sandwiches, toast, and in baking.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC.)

© 2014 BELVOIR MEDIA GROUP DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Photo: Fluffymuppet / flickr 

Sen. David Perdue

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) pulled out of his final debate against Democrat Jon Ossoff on Thursday —because he'd rather attend a Donald Trump campaign rally.

The Nov. 1 Senate debate was planned months ago, but Perdue's campaign said he could not participate as promised because he has been too busy doing his job.

"Senator Perdue will not be participating in the WSB-TV debate but will instead join the 45th president, Donald J. Trump, for a huge Get-Out-The-Vote rally in Northwest Georgia. For 8 of the last 14 days of this campaign, Senator Perdue went back to Washington to work for much needed COVID relief," his spokesperson John Burke said in a statement, referencing a failed attempt by Senate Republicans to pass Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) "skinny" $500 billion proposal.

"To make up for the lost time, Senator Perdue has over 20 campaign stops planned for the closing days of this race, and he is excited to welcome and join President Trump in Georgia before November 3rd to campaign for both of their re-election efforts," Burke added.

WSB-TV noted on Thursday that it offered Perdue's campaign other time slots to accommodate the Trump rally, but the overture was rebuffed.

Ossoff's campaign blasted Perdue's "cowardly withdrawal," saying in a statement that the move "says it all: David Perdue feels entitled to his office, and he'll do anything to avoid accountability for his blatant corruption and his total failure during this unprecedented health crisis."

The incumbent's decision to break his promise to debate came one day after a video of Jon Ossoff criticizing Perdue's anti-Obamacare record at a Wednesday debate went viral. As of Friday morning, a 72-second clip of Ossoff has been viewed more than 12 million times.

Perdue responded to that attack by making the odd claim that he repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act — which would take insurance away from hundreds of thousands of his constituents — because he believed doing so would cover more people.

"I voted against the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, because it was taking insurance away from millions of Georgians. Today almost 18 percent of Georgians don't have any health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act," he falsely claimed.

This is not the first time Perdue has put Trump ahead of the interests of Georgians. According to FiveThirtyEight, he has voted with Trump about 95 percent of the time, including backing his right-wing Supreme Court nominees, his tax cuts for large corporations and the very wealthy, and his repeated attempts to take money from military families to pay for a massive Southern border wall.

Medical experts and data analyses have suggested Trump's rallies have been super-spreader events for the coronavirus. Trump has refused to adhere to social distancing rules or to require mask usage at the events and the mass gatherings have frequently been immediately followed by case spikes in the communities where he holds them.

One poll this week found that voters across the country said they are less likely to vote for Trump because of his "large, in-person campaign rallies where wearing a mask is not required of attendees."

The race between Ossoff and Perdue is considered a "toss-up" by election experts, and polls show it as virtual tied.

If no candidate gets a majority on Tuesday, the top two finishers will face off in a January runoff.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.