Chocolate Hemp Seed Butter & A Trip to Franny's Farm
I was not compensated in any way for this post. All of the views expressed here are my own.
Hemp seeds, hemp oil, CBD oil and more - all derived from the hemp plant, close relative to marijuana, and until recently outlawed all over the United States.
In 2014, laws were passed to allow a pilot program for renewing hemp farming, a crop that was a mainstay on American farms for hundreds of years. Hemp has a variety of uses from textile to food and beauty products, but has been heavily regulated by the DEA in recent decades. The new pilot program which has been adopted by 38 states (including NC) is exploring what the crop has to offer.
Franny's Farm in Leicester, NC is one of the 300 or so farms in NC that have been licensed to participate in the hemp program. A license that is not easy to come by. It requires a past history of profitable farming, application fees, annual fees, random inspections and costs for testing crops for THC levels. This doesn't even take into account the fact that hemp seeds are not sold in the state, so there is additional expense in researching a procuring the seeds for growing.
I recently got to visit Franny's Farm in person to check out their operation and talk with the owner about the challenges of her first year framing industrial hemp.
Franny's Farm has captured the true spirit of agri-tourism. When you arrive, you are greeted by a gorgeous scene or lush green fields set against a mountainous backdrop. They have been farming for several years, but also operate an event space, a farm camp for kids, goat yoga, many events plus vacation rentals for farm stays.
They started farming hemp in 2017. Franny was the first woman licensed to grow hemp in NC. This year, they have converted nearly all of their fields to hemp farming. A move they hope will pay off when harvest time comes. They are planning to convert most of their crops into hemp and CBD products to sell rather than selling the crop outright.
I've written before about the health benefits of CBD oil but I had not ever tried cooking with hemp seeds or hemp oil. It turns out that hemp food products do not contain the same CBD components as the oil from the hemp flower, but they are still quite good for you. Technically a nut, hemp seeds are nutty in flavor and contain essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6. In addition, about 25% of their calories are made up of protein, making then a very good source of plant protein if you're on a low-meat or no-meat diet.
Since I am always on the lookout for new ingredients that fit my gluten-free and dairy-free diet. I was eager to try out some hemp seeds of my own. The harvest is still a little while out at Franny's, so I picked up a bag of hemp hearts (seeds with the outer shell removed) for this recipe.