Up in Hadley, nestled in Lapeer county, the humble hemp seed is taking root. Not in fertile soil, but in Laura Noble's business: Lady Jane Gourmet Seed Company.
Noble discovered hemp during her battle with melanoma cancer. She was on a quest to find a hemp fabric she liked, in order to make sun protective clothing. Cotton doesn't protect against UV rays, she explains to Metro Times. It was on this quest she found herself at a hemp bazaar, and introduced to hemp food. "When I saw the nutritional value of hemp seeds, I was astounded," she tells us. "I was shocked that we weren't utilizing the food more for the nutrition. It's one of the most nutritionally dense foods around!"
Hemp, she explains, is high in protein, has all 18 amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids, along with omega fatty acids — a complete amino acid profile. It's high in the iron, magnesium, and trace minerals that we're missing in our diets, she adds. It has folate, zinc, copper, fiber, and potassium. The nutrition is so healthy, she says, "you can survive off it."
And so she has a line of hemp seed products, including toasted hemp seeds with sea salt, and power bar mixes that include sesame, sunflower, and chia seeds that you can blend at home. There're two gluten-free flapjack mixes (both "outstanding for protein.")
She's also getting into textiles again, with hemp wine bags.
Noble imports her hemp from Canada, and processes and packages it here in Michigan. Due to hemp's sister, marijuana, the U.S. government is fickle when it comes to domestic hemp cultivation, so she and others in the hemp industry are unable to procure their raw hemphere.
Noble laments that much of her day is spent on educating consumers unfamiliar with hemp, who often think they could get high if they eat the hemp seed (impossible) or that they could smoke the fabric (bad idea, and again, you won't get high).
When we ask Noble if she's involved with the Hemp Industries Association, one of the leading nonprofits working to educate and change U.S. policies surrounding the plant, she says, "Hemp should be a for-profit industry. There're tens of thousands of products [that can be made from it]. It's a shame we're not using it on our farm fields."
Indeed, hemp could be a boom crop for Michigan, and other parts of the United States, but the federal government's inability to distinguish between the cannabis and hemp plants means there are many laws, rules, agencies, and regulations restricting its cultivation — so many that it seems easier to grow medical marijuana in Michigan than it is to cultivate hemp.
Until those issues get sorted out (visit the Hemp Industries Association at HIA.org to learn more) we here in the U.S. will just have to keep enjoying our imported, Canadian hemp. And getting our nutrition from it, too — via Lady Jane Gourmet Seed Company.
Find Lady Jane hemp seed products most Saturdays at Eastern Market, or order online at ljseedco.com.