Second Vermont Republic

A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.

“Hemp Hemp Hooray”: Doug Fine’s 21st Century Search for the Next Agricultural Revolution (BOOK REVIEW)

hemp-bound-coverPot. Weed. “Mary Jane,” or whatever you call it, most people are familiar with marijuana. Whether one partakes in recreational use, uses it for medicinal reasons, or is completely against it, we all know what it is. But what if this “magic” little plant could fuel our cars, be a staple of our breakfast, and even insulate our houses? Well it’s not that plant exactly, but a higher-growing variety of the cannabis plant called hemp. You can make a multitude of items from hemp: clothing, paper. Hemp even keeps weeds from growing in your garden and can be used instead of pesticides. So why isn’t everything we own made out of hemp like we see it can be? That is the question comedian and author Doug Fine aims to answer in Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution.

Fine travels across the United States, Mexico, and Canada to find answers and to see what we are missing out on. He talks about hemp-fed laying hens that pass on the plant’s fatty acid profile, which then loads the eggs with essentials omega-3 and omega-6, making the eggs even more nutritious and powerful for your body. In the aptly named chapter “Hemp Gets Out Ring Around the Collar” he discusses Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap can get out all kinds of stains in your laundry along with being hypoallergenic and nontoxic. How can you travel across Colorado using hemp biodiesel and cut your carbon footprint by 78%? He explores this, too.

Not only are there Fine’s personal experiences in this book – there is plenty of factual information. For example, a farmer who planted one thousand acres of hemp in 2012 netted $250,000 by 2013. Most of that hemp is used to create “value-added” products like salad dressings or breakfast cereals, so there is even more money to be made from this miracle plant. Many countries use the plant, as well, and have their own distinct markets. For Canada, their biggest investment is in seed oil. In China, they focus mainly on textiles. And in Europe, they create construction and industrial materials. So what is keeping America from having its big hemp revolution, and joining these other countries? Three letters: DEA.

The Drug Enforcement Administration enforces what is called the Controlled Substances Act. This act prohibits the growing or making and selling of many drugs, including cannabis. Actually, cannabis is the biggest target of the drug war. With a budget of 2.5 billion dollars, the DEA fights to keep this ban against drugs and keep the war going, even going against a majority of the nation that would like to see the rise of hemp again without risking getting arrested for farming their own plants.

With wit and sarcasm in equal measure, Fine’s book sparkles. He keeps you laughing, while feeding you information that is so full of nutrition for the brain, you would swear it was on an all hemp diet. The book is split into eleven different chapters, each outlining a different adventure and a different use for hemp. Along with each chapter, there are inserted pieces from “Hemp Pioneers” and how they are trying to get our revolution going or how they have used hemp to help the environment and beyond. These short biographies give you more of an insight into who Fine is interacting with throughout the book.

I picked up this book with very minimal knowledge on hemp. Honestly, I didn’t know there was a difference between hemp and marijuana, so the idea of putting it in our food made me question if the book was talking about edibles. After reading this book I can see that there are many advantages to pumping up our hemp market. We can stop using so many resources that are terrible for the environment and replace them with this one green plant! That is a magical idea that needs to be implemented immediately or, as soon as possible.

My favorite chapter has to be “Fill ‘Er Up with Hemp”. In it, Fine travels across Colorado in a hemp-powered limo whose original owner was Ferdinand Marcos. Through many quips about shoes and luxury, Fine tells us how normal petrol diesel puts about 22.38 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere per gallon. Using only 6 gallons of hemp biodiesel, 122 pounds of carbon dioxide were kept from the atmosphere “and we didn’t give a penny to ExxonMobil.”(Fine, 48)

I would highly recommend this book to everyone. The information in it is something we all need if we want to keep our Earth healthy. Fine himself puts it this way: “the plant must be exploited domestically in ways upon which the marketplace smiles. No pressure: We fail? We just go extinct. The Earth’ll be fine.” With a clear warning like that within the first ten pages, there is no way to ignore this book. Whether you pick it up just to skim, read a few chapters, or dive into the whole book, you will find yourself laughing, learning and thinking. When a book can make you do all three in fewer than 150 pages, you know it is worth a full read from cover to cover.

Maggie Mae Whittemore is an MJD student at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2015 by in Arts and tagged , , , , , .

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