Devon's Oil Boom 

Devon's Oil Boom 
Posted by CN Staff on November 06, 2004 at 17:25:19 PT
By Louise France
Source: Observer UK
It can't offer the same high as cannabis, but hemp - a food so full of nutrients you could almost live on it - has one British supplier laughing all the way to the bank. One day two years ago Henry Braham found himself sat in the back of a car with Stephen Fry. As Fry's director of photography, the pair were in the middle of shooting the glittering costume drama Bright Young Things but, for a moment, Henry had rather different matters on his mind. He was on his mobile phone urgently discussing the price of hemp seed.
Braham and his wife Glynis Murray - who runs her own production company and has worked on award-winning commercials with Ridley Scott, David Bailey and Stephen Frears - lead double lives. During the week they're based in Notting Hill and are respected figures in the British film industry. On Friday evenings they climb into their green Land Rover, along with retired sheepdog, Bryn, and head for the village of Tawstock in north Devon. As soon as they arrive at their 17th-century farmhouse, marzipan yellow with a thick thatched roof, the talk is less to do with shooting schedules and more about the hemp harvest. It's seven years since they started growing the crop - now pretty rare but once grown by every farmer in Britain under orders from Elizabeth I when it was needed to make rope for the navy - and six months since they began selling their home-grown hemp oil and toasted hemp seeds in supermarkets. Called 'Good Oil' and 'Good Seed', the products are an unlikely success story. Say the word 'hemp' and most people think of hippies dressed in dungarees. And dope. The plant is a member of the cannabis sativa family, which marijuana also belongs to. What they're less likely to realise is that while hemp actually contains only trace elements of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient in dope that makes you stoned, it is packed with an amazing amount of fatty acids, minerals and proteins that are fantastically good for you (so much so, one nutritionist I mentioned it to said a diet of hemp seed and water alone would be fairly healthy). It was the foot and mouth crisis that turned the Brahams onto hemp. They'd watched helplessly as their 150 disease-free sheep were led into the yard and slaughtered and wondered what the future might be for Collabear Farm, which they'd bought in 1996. They'd already experimented with less common cereal crops and discovered that hemp, once traditionally grown in the area, thrived in the warm, wet climate of the southwest. It was the beginning of a long learning curve. 'Everyone says don't be the first to person to do something. And that's absolutely true,' says Henry. Home Office inspectors arrived to check that they weren't growing dope (but this didn't stop one over-zealous fan of Crimestoppers spotting the suspicious 10-foot tall plants and calling the police). Then the couple had to work out how to harvest the crop - it has incredibly tough stalks that can destroy the blades on a combine harvester. For the first two years everything that could go wrong did. 'One winter I can remember lying in bed with gales howling around the house and thinking I've got 75 per cent of the seed out there and it's literally blowing away,' remembers Henry, a softly spoken man, not given to exaggeration. The following year they experimented with a new way of getting the plant off the fields. 'It was a complete disaster.' They lost the entire crop. But over time, and with the help of neighbouring farmers who welcomed the townies into the village, they got the hang of hemp. They worked out how to grow it, how to harvest it, how to dry it without it going rancid. Sometimes out in the fields combining at three in the morning, Henry confesses that he was a man obsessed. 'You had to solve it, didn't you love?' says Glynis. To begin with they concentrated on supplying the seed for the specialist bottles of hemp oil found in health shops. 'But then we realised that our quality was getting better and better,' says Henry. 'We were selling to big names who didn't care where the seed came from, didn't care about the taste. We thought - this is ridiculous.' The answer was to turn away from health food shops and towards supermarkets. 'We came up with the idea of making hemp oil into a staple food product,' says Glynis. 'Turning it from a holier-than-thou medicine into an ingredient.' Marketing friends persuaded them to call the sweet, pine nutty cold-pressed liquid 'Good Oil' which had a hipper ring to it than hemp. When Henry's mother starting selling out at her local farmers' market in Wiltshire (and running down the stairs claiming her arthritis was much better) they knew they were in business. It was time to give Waitrose a call. The Good Oil story would not have happened 10 years ago, even five. In a way it's the result of several 21st-century trends. First, a farming industry in crisis, forced to find different ways to make money (after a lifetime growing traditional cereal crops their neighbour, Francis Thorne, is trying hemp, too). Secondly, a savvy generation of consumers who know their hemp from their hash and are not alarmed by new ingredients. And finally, supermarkets that have realised consumers want to eat food that tastes good and is healthy. Nutritionist Natalie Savona calls hemp 'a true superfood'. Uncooked, she explains, it contains the perfect ratio of omega fats 3, 6 and 9, which we don't produce naturally in the body but are crucial for healthy circulation, cell growth and the immune system. Traditionally the advice has been to eat lots of oily fish, but hemp is an excellent vegetarian alternative. It is said to help with eczema, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure. There is even evidence to suggest that it can improve memory and relieve depression (parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have noticed promising results). Small amounts of magnesium and zinc boost energy levels and regulate hormone balance. Plus there are the cosmetic advantages - Natalie estimates that incorporating it in your diet for two weeks will produce naturally moisturised skin. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a bottle of Good Oil next to his cooker and uses it more than his traditional olive oil: drizzled on toast with a bit of salt in the morning; as a salad dressing with sweet tomatoes and salty cheese; it makes the perfect crisp and nutty roast potato. Although heating up the oil destroys some of the nutritional value, it still tastes good. 'It's got a distinctive taste, an acquired taste perhaps - like any strong olive oil. But like a good malt whisky you grow to love it.' Does he think hemp's hippy reputation will put people off? 'I have to say that's never been a problem for me!' he says. 'I'm familiar with hemp in all its forms. Whenever I've cooked with, shall we say ingredients like hemp, in a cookie or a cake, it's tasted awful, but there have been other benefits! This is different. It's a culinary ingredient and unlike other novelty oils I think it will stand the test of time.' Henry and Glynis are now planning to branch out into other hempy products - snack bars, seed-covered chocolate bars, even a dairy-free smoothie. Where once they farmed 40 acres, now they're renting local land and working on 750 acres. Remarkably, they manage to juggle filming schedules and the relentless farming calendar. 'Plus,' chips in Glynis, 'several homes and four kids.' Henry estimates they've invested about a million pounds in the business. Their optimism seems to be well-founded. In New York the fashionable chef Denis Cicero uses hemp in his restaurant Galaxy Global Eatery (while drug laws prohibit cultivation in America, the seed can be imported). One item on the menu, hemp crostini with seaweed caviar, has proved so popular that Cicero is to launch a cookbook. All Henry and Glynis need now is a plotline on The Archers and we'll all be high on hemp. Good Oil, £6.99, and Good Seed, £2.49, are available from branches of Waitrose, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges Source: Observer, The (UK)Author: Louise FrancePublished: Sunday, November 7, 2004Copyright: 2004 The ObserverContact: letters Hemp Archives
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Comment #11 posted by AgaetisByrjun on November 07, 2004 at 19:27:32 PT
Stephen Fry (the actor cited in the article) was a character in the Blackadder television series. He was Lord Melchott in the second season and General Melchott in the fourth. Seasons two through four are absolutely amazing; check them out if you can. The first season is really pretty lame and unfunny in comparison but it has its moments.
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Comment #10 posted by AgaetisByrjun on November 07, 2004 at 19:26:34 PT
Yeah, basically the butter method without pulverizing or straining it. I break it down as much as I can and toss out the stems, but can't get the plant matter out that well. I might add that my kitchen consists entirely of a microwave and a small clandestine stove in the corner of a dorm room: harly haute cuisine, but it works relatively all right. I'll try the cheesecloth sometime: what I use now is butter with tiny flakes of plant matter, which are basically as fine as sand (the larger bits having been taking out). Still imparts a pot taste to the mixture, which, as you rightly said, is highly unpleasant.I apologize for the sort of scattered incoherence of this but I'm in the very beginning stages of a mushroom trip and my fingers are extremely sweaty. I'm watching a silent film from 1915 on Turner Classic Movies and -- wow. I've always had a very strong fascination with the Victorian era and the turn of the century (chalk it up to comforting images from childhood of quaint Alice in Wonderland/Wind in the Willows characters dressing like gentlement and talking in twee, staid English: I could live off of that, and it's brought me to a general love for the period and things like Charles Dickens in general), but this is just too much. I've really got on entirely too long and I must be going!
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Comment #9 posted by Max Flowers on November 07, 2004 at 11:14:02 PT
Tell me how you're using it to cook with. I have a feeling you may be using the whole herb (leaf/veg matter included) which is not the way to do it---it always tastes horrible. I have had very potent brownies that had basically zero cannabis taste. What you have to do is extract the herb into butter or oil and then strain it of all plant matter. It's done by heating pulverized herb gently with the oil or butter, then pouring through a fine strainer. I think some people do it with cheesecloth. Then you use that butter in making whatever you want. There is tons of info on the web on the various methods.
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on November 07, 2004 at 10:11:13 PT
I like the taste of hemp seed oil.
Most often I use it is salads with vinager, hemp seeds, grated parmesan, hopefully some calamata olives, bell pepper, toms, etc.Oh, to make the mouth water more; add FoM's aspearagus.Toss that.420And by the way,We have "Devon's Oil Boom" & We have Devil's Oil Boom 
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Comment #7 posted by AgaetisByrjun on November 07, 2004 at 09:25:59 PT
Some thoughts
['I'm familiar with hemp in all its forms. Whenever I've cooked with, shall we say ingredients like hemp, in a cookie or a cake, it's tasted awful, but there have been other benefits!]You said it -- I tried making some brownies last night and the pot taste STILL cut through. Everything I make tastes absolutely awful, but it's true: there are other benefits!One thing that disturbed me about this article was the liberal use of "dope" and "stoned". To me, dope is narcotics and stoned is when you're intoxicated/zonked -- like, say, alcohol or Valium. Those words have always seemed completely misused relative to pot: it's as if we called alcohol coke and being drunk tripping.I used to have a problem with the word marijuana: its being racist in origin, its being the only "drug" called by an outdated slang term, etc. -- but I really don't mind it now. It's actually got a nice ring to it, and it's strange how its connotation (for me) has changed. I used to think of it in the same vein as Beelebub, Baal, Azrael: exotic-sounding devils. Now it's vaguely comforting and feminine, with none of the almost blood-curdling ring it used to have. It's a very friendly-sounding word now. I don't know, the word cannabis makes me think of an old-style movie villain, with an Italian mustache (and it starts the same as "cannibal", too). I prefer marijuana myself, but I guess cannabis is better for the movement.Of course, I never use either term in life: either pot/grass (in general) or bud (if it's right there in front of me). It's one of the few things I use separate words for for its abstract (pot) or concrete (bud) existence. There are probably others, but few other things have that split.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on November 06, 2004 at 20:13:32 PT
We Are Fighting an Uphill Battle
I read today that they will probably let Bush drill in Alaska now.Bush Stands by Rejection of Kyoto Treaty: By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush is holding fast to his rejection of mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming, despite a fresh report from 300 scientists in the United States and seven other nations that shows Arctic temperatures are rising.Complete Article:
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on November 06, 2004 at 19:12:23 PT
If I ever had the opportunity to talk to Neil Young I think I wouldn't be able to even say hello I'd be so dumb struck! LOL!
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on November 06, 2004 at 19:11:10 PT
 Raising hemp sounds like clean farming.
420&Things seem to be visible from just seeing this title.HELICOPTER OFFICERS READY TO SEE RED The title of this news story has some insight.Red is the color used to represent the Repugnant ones, as I watched the election results…Heli officers ready to see it the Repubs way…Heli officers ready to see blood.It seems there is more to this…
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on November 06, 2004 at 19:07:41 PT
34th Hash Bash
FoM please put a good word in for us with Neil if you see him:) Willie is allways, 
Cannabis Freedom Activist Network's
2005 Guide To 34th Annual
Ann Arbor Hash Bash Vending 
on Ann Arbor City Streets and Sidewalks
. Again, the Ann Arbor City Administrator has taken it upon himself, exceeding his legal authority, to ban all peddling around the University of Michigan Diag. If you have been damaged or will be damaged by the City Administrator's action, call us at 734-677-0009 to become a litigant.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 06, 2004 at 19:00:03 PT
I really would love to raise Hemp. I know it wouldn't be a big money maker but I would feel that I was doing good by our land. We have 25 acres but a third of it is woods. We do have a really well established asparagus patch. We eat what we want and give the rest to those who like it.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on November 06, 2004 at 18:52:47 PT
Bush is in the wrong oil business...
Bush is in the wrong oil business; the one that requires killing, to farm.Once hemp is re-legalized for American farmers to cultivate, We may see more Americans wishing to go back to small family farming.Once hemp is re-legalized for American farmers to cultivate, it may be too late for someone to buy land to farm… The prohibition and attempted extermination of hemp and cannabis has created a tweaked economy…It will not be long and it will be saying: helps reduce the risk of getting cancer; gets rid of cancer etc. 
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