I'd like to begin this article by addressing a commonly cited fear about biofuel, which is that by utilizing more land for biomass and ethanol crops such as corn, sugarcane and switchgrass, the price of food will increase. This is a commonly stated fear, though largely unfounded, people rarely take the time to contradict it.
I believe a common fact about ethanol crops and food crops is the key to dismissing this fear, we all want a world where cleaner fuels are being used and everyone has enough to eat. That fact is that there are many crops which can be both food and fuel right off of the same stock. Hemp is one such crop, with the recent passing of the Farm Bill in the United States, industrial hemp is now federally legal. The seeds of the industrial hemp plant have all 9 essential amino acids and are an excellent source of protein by weight, as well as various fatty acids, which will make this highly sought after protein more affordable and being grown close to home, its quality and availability will substantially increase. The remaining parts of the plant, such as the leaves, woody stalks and fiber, contain a high concentration of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, all of which can be extracted to make ethanol biofuel.
Hemp used to be a staple crop all across the U.S. and it is about to see a great revival, thanks to our legislators that included it in the Farm Bill, giving industrial hemp (non-intoxicating) the legal status that it deserves, and giving farmers the opportunity to grow a high demand crop that will allow them to compete with larger agricultural companies. Farmers have long been the cornerstone of civilizations, the potential for hemp to pioneer in the fields of biofuel, composites, buildings and countless others, just reinforces the fact that all wholesome things begin at the soil level, the pioneering, the innovation all the while it is helping farmers in small towns in America to grow the future.
This new year ushers in an exciting wave of possibilities, 2019 in all hopes, can be a year where biobased materials will really take off. The recent wave of changes will undoubtedly create jobs in manufacturing, agriculture, composites, energy, architecture and countless others. The market for hemp based foods, fuels and materials is there, and it is set to grow substantially.
If you want to support a grassroots organization that has been lobbying for hemp and has continued their activism in favor of legalization and use of industrial hemp, check out votehemp.com they are an awesome non-profit that is doing great things for this industry.