I was a little surprised when I saw hemp snack bars for sale at Wegman's a while back. Obviously, marijuana laws have been changing rapidly in the U.S. lately. As far as I could tell (various sources had conflicting information) currently 20 states allow it for medical use, and 8 allow it for medical use and recreational purposes. Also, I've heard about hemp clothing being sold in America for some time--I think actor Woody Harrelson has been touting these for over a decade. But I was unaware that foods made with hemp were legal.
The manufacturer of the hemp bars I tried, Manitoba Harvest, has an informative website. In addition to showing all their products, and talking about their company's history, they also include a brief history of hemp in the U.S. and Canada (as you can guess from their name, they are a Canadian company). For example, evidently Louis Herbert (a French botonist) was the first to grow hemp, in what is now Nova Scotia way back in 1606 (in Port Royal). Moving on, America's first three Presidents (Washington, Adams, and Jefferson) all grew it, and the Declaration of Independence was drafted on paper made from hemp. During World War II, with rope supplies desperately needed, a campaign was set up to encourage folks to grow all they could. It was called "Hemp For Victory." On the negative side, here in the U.S. it's currently illegal to grow hemp except for research purposes, although it is legal to sell it. Our neighbors to the North made it legal to grow for industrial purposes in 1998, and Manitoba Harvest quickly formed to take advantage.
The website also discussed hemp's nutritional benefits, and cleared up some misconceptions. For the former, hemp seeds are apparently high in protein, and omegas, and also are significant sources of magnesium, fiber, zinc, phosphorus, and iron. For the latter, the hemp used in their food contains less than .003% THC (Tetrahydrocannibinol), the psychoactive substance in marijuana, so it won't get you high, even if you eat huge quantities of it. They also report that their products won't cause consumers to fail drug tests.
In addition to the three types of hemp bars (chocolate, vanilla, and apple cinnamon), Manitoba makes Hemp Hearts (raw shelled hemp seed), Hemp Heart Toppers (for ice cream, etc.), Hemp Protein Powder, Hemp Protein Smoothies, and Hemp Oil. The bars themselves are made from hemp seeds, organic coconut palm sugar, organic brown rice syrup, organic flavors, sea salt, pectin, organic sunflower oil, and spice extracts.
I bought the two that I saw offered, a chocolate and the vanilla. The chocolate was shiny and dark brown, with visible embedded hemp seeds. And it was....atrocious. Weird, sweetish, and utterly nasty. I couldn't finish it. A complete disaster. The vanilla one was whitish, and also with visible seeds. It was just okay in taste. Definitely vanilla-y. Decent, but not great. I could finish it, but I don't think I'll buy it again. I might try the apple cinnamon kind, but it'll probably depend on how I feel that day. Their other products don't seem appetizing, either. As with the Hi-Chew Japanese candies of two weeks ago, the folks who run the company seem like good, well-meaning people, and the website was cool, but their actual products were mediocre to terrible.