HEMP MILK: ‘What the crop is that?!’

With a myriad of milk alternatives on the market to choose from, Duncan tells Sadeh why Hemp milk is the most sustainable and tasty option out there.

Duncan Delves

Hemp has been cultivated by the farming folk of numerous cultures for thousands of years. Indeed, it remained an important crop throughout Europe and the United States until the mid twentieth century when its popularity waned in the face of cheap imported cotton, the rise of plastics and the association - often perpetuated and exaggerated by purveyors of these two rival products - with those varieties of the cannabis plant grown exclusively for recreational drug use. Drag.....

Today Hemp is being rediscovered as a highly versatile and sustainable crop at home and abroad. It is hardy, fast growing and incredibly useful; it’s strong fibres are used to make rope, clothing and even building materials, whilst its seeds - the main edible part of the plant - can be eaten as a protein rich topping to salads or stir fries, ground down to a flour for use in baking, further refined to make milk and even cold pressed to make oil. The plant itself also helps to regenerate the soil upon which it grows, keeping nutrients locked in for future harvests rather than stripping them off the land.

Milking the Hemp

For those seeking an alternative to dairy milk the choices have certainly increased in recent years. Milks made from soya bean and almond are perhaps the most widely available, however the beans and nuts used to make these products are often from far flung and unsustainable sources; soya is often grown in large monocultural tracts in the Americas or China, whilst almond plantations are incredibly water intensive - which is particularly problematic when you consider that a vast number of the almonds consumed globally are grown in California, a state which has in recent years been wracked by lengthy and severe periods of drought.

Of all these alternatives, the ethically minded and taste conscious are implored to seek out a carton of hemp milk. With a mildly nutty flavour and a creaminess more reminiscent of dairy than many other vegetable milks, it certainly passes muster on taste. It is also pretty versatile (it doesn’t separate when added to hot drinks - I’m looking at you almond milk…) and, what’s more, it is naturally rich in omega 3. You can even purchase hemp milk from hemp grown and refined in the UK - ‘Good Hemp’ Hemp Milk is a particular favourite of mine and is now being stocked in more and more shops and supermarkets nationwide.