by Michele Warmund, University of Missouri, Division of Plant Sciences, modified and submitted by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, MU Extension- Jackson County, MO
Although industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) is considered a new crop in Missouri, it is actually an ancient crop, which was harvested in China 8500 years ago.
Fiber hemp was introduced to western Asia and Egypt, and then into Europe between 1000 and 2000 BCE. Hemp was imported into North America in 1606. Missouri was a major producer of fiber hemp from 1840 to 1860 due to the demand for sailcloth and rope.
Hemp was primarily grown in Kentucky until World War I. However, the Marijuana Tax Act ended fiber hemp production in 1938, except for a brief production period from 1942 to 1945 when 400,000 acres produced fiber for cloth and cordage.
Industrial hemp could again be an important alternative crop for Missouri farmers. It is the job of University of Missouri as a state research university to determine the best way to do that. Research will focus on both ideal growing conditions and potential economic impact.
Industrial Hemp is not Marijuana.
Although the plant used to grow industrial hemp is the same plant as used to grow marijuana, they are different varieties, which means they have extensive botanical differences – the main difference being that industrial hemp has less than 0.3 percent THC. It cannot be used as a recreational drug.
Hemp is one of the oldest sources of textile fiber. The bast fibers in the phloem of the stem tissue ("bark") range from 0.2 to 1.6 inches long, while the stem core fibers, known as hurds, are shorter.
Textiles made with bast fiber are strong and durable, with high tensile and wet strength. Thus, bast fibers were used extensively for rope, nets, canvas, sailcloth, and oakum for caulking on ships. Fiber hemp was also valued for upholstery, bags, sacks, and tarpaulins during this time. Today, hemp is used in materials for clothing and footwear.
During the 1800's, paper was made primarily from hemp and flax. Later, the development of cheap wood pulping methods for paper production was more economical than processing hemp and flax fibers. Today, specialty hemp paper products made from bast fibers include art papers, tea bags, bank notes, and technical filters.
Presently, hemp fiber is incorporated into plastic composites for molded car parts in Europe. Henry Ford used hemp and soybean to make durable car parts, such as trunk doors, in the 1940's. In car parts with fiber hemp, there is no splintering in accidents.
It provides favorable mechanical and acoustical properties. Hemp composites may have other uses in the manufacturing of bicycles, airplanes, and other vehicles for lightweight parts, padding, or sound insulation.
Fiber hemp is used in building construction products for thermal insulation, fiberboard, and in cement and plaster to enhance the strength of building materials.
For fiberboard, the short hurd fibers are used in composite wood products. The addition of hemp fibers into concrete also reduces shrinkage and cracking.
Hemp hurds can also be chemically combined with other products to strengthen foundations, walls, floors and ceilings of structures, or to make tile-like products.
Outdoor products made from hemp fibers, such as hemp fiber netting or blankets, can prevent soil erosion and stabilize new plantings. Horticultural uses for hemp fiber include biodegradable pots and biodegradable twine or supports for plants and trees in landscapes, orchards, and vineyards, replacing plastic ties.
Hemp hurds are also useful for animal bedding and pet litter.
Hulled hemp seed and cold-pressed hempseed oil can be used for specialty food products, beverages, nutraceuticals, and cosmetics in North America. Due to the nutty flavor of hemp seeds, they are included in some food products.
As with any "new" crop, there are pitfalls for producers, including growing challenges, potential for overproduction, new laws, and a lack of secure markets.
For consumers, fiber hemp offers alternative products. Currently, market expansion of non-food hemp products is limited by crop availability and high costs associated with fiber extraction and manufacturing processes. However, with innovative solutions, technical challenges can be overcome.
by Denise Sullivan, Nutrition & Health Education Specialist, MU Extension-Jackson County
If it is possible for vegetables to be ‘trending’, we could say that Brussels sprouts are doing exactly that. These tiny cabbages (as my kids used to call them) are showing up shaved into salads and roasted in savory side dishes on menus and dinner tables across the country.
Brussels sprouts are a member of the Brassicaceae family, as are cabbage, broccoli and kale, sharing a similar nutrient profile. These tiny sprouts are an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and folate.
Vitamin C is important for tissue repair, immune function and aids in the body’s ability to absorb iron.
Vitamin K is necessary for effective blood clotting and important to bone health. It is important to note that anyone taking blood-thinning medication should monitor vitamin K intake.
Folate is an important nutrient for women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant, as it reduces the risk of neural tube defects in the developing fetus.
As with most vegetables, Brussels sprouts are a good source of fiber that is beneficial in digestive and gut health. A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts has shown to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of pro-inflammatory diseases.
When selecting Brussels sprouts, look for bright green compact heads, and whenever possible, buy them on the stalk. It was actually on-the-stalk Brussels sprouts that caught my kids’ attention over 20 years ago that forced – I mean inspired – me to try the fresh variety.
My kids were genuinely excited about a vegetable that looked like something out of a science fiction movie, but I did not share their enthusiasm. I had only eaten them in the school cafeteria growing up and I was not a fan. That day, however, I made a decision to build on their enthusiasm and we bought them.
Now, this was in a time before Google and Pinterest, so I had to figure out how to cook them on my own. I knew from experience that lemon, garlic and butter could make anything palatable, so after steaming them, that’s what I added. Guess what…the kids loved them and even more surprising…so did I. From that day, Brussels sprouts became a part of our vegetable rotation.
If, like me, you formed your opinion of Brussels sprouts (or any vegetable for that matter) on something you were served in the school lunchroom, I really urge you to try them fresh. God bless the school lunch ladies decades ago, but most of the vegetables served were overcooked and not very tasty.
The recipe below is a tasty way to add more colorful plants to your holiday plate. When we served this dish at last year’s Christmas dinner, it got more attention than the ever-famous green bean casserole!