Founder, Chad Rosen shares the benefits of hemp products on health and the economy as well as his favorite hemp based recipe- Spicy Hemp Basil Pesto.
What inspired you to start Victory Hemp Foods? How have you overcome any challenges you have faced on your journey and do you have any advice for other "wellpreneuers"?
If hemp has 25,000 different uses I could probably give you close to as many reasons for what drives my passion to see this plant come into the rotation responsibly. I believe in the rhetoric of what’s possible with this plant from paper, to textiles, to graphene, to food, to construction materials… replacing our fossil fuel based economy with an agriculture based economy, and one that doesn’t rely on synthetic chemicals for production is more than possible, it’s scalable. There are a lot of people in this industry working in different directions, some will be successful with those technologies and it’s exciting to be a part or, even distracting at times! Without a doubt it hasn't been an easy road, we're building an industry that has legal barriers, social stigmas, under developed markets, and fierce competition from abroad or even from similar commodities.
Kentucky is an Ag state, lots of good soil, sun, water, and farmers, mix that with strong support from political leaders and it seemed like a great place to germinate a business in Hemp. When you start to unravel the economics and the motives that legislators here in Kentucky had for aligning the laws to allow Hemp into the rotation, you can’t go far without learning about the economic diaspora that took place when the demand for tobacco began to evaporate. As a high value crop, tobacco fit in well to the hills and holler’s that shape Kentucky’s topography. With hemps potential to offer multiple revenue points from a single plant there’s strong potential for it to fit well into the Ag system here in Kentucky. From that standpoint of impact I couldn’t think of a better place to grow roots for Victory Hemp Foods.
Can you share what kinds of products Victory Hemp Foods sells?
VHF is working to build the domestic supply chain as well as the market for hemp foods. We do that by bringing our Kentucky Proud (Grown and Processed) Hemp Oil and Hemp Protein to market with Hemp Hearts that are coming from either Canada or Colorado at this point.
Building the supply chain involves more than just getting some viable seed in the ground and then harvested in the fall, we're working to connecting existing infrastructure to process, as well as develop our own proprietary equipment to process efficiently, effectively, and most importantly safely here in rural Kentucky.
On the market demand side of the equation our company goal is to add value to the industry by expanding the category. While we are always going to be another brand on store shelves that a consumer can grab against another brand offering hemp hearts, we aim to develop products that incorporate hemp foods (oil, protein, hearts) as additives and ingredients to help fortify the nutritional profile as well as increase the demand for our farmers. Helping to develop more products that incorporate hemp into them with the intentions of getting major food manufacturers and brands off the sideline.
Our work on the Kentucky Hemp Hotdog is a good example of breaking barriers and finding markets for hemp. Before this project hemp had never been approved for use as an additive or ingredient in meat products by the USDA. With the help of farmers and the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Associations as well as the KDA we were able to run this issue up the flag pole in DC and get the USDA to clear hemp for use in meat products which established a precedent for the entire hemp food industry.
A line of Pasta and Tortillas are in the final stages of development also and we think they’ll be a fresh take on some classics.
What are the benefits of buying/using hemp products?
Hemp foods are nutritious and delicious; with the ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and a protein profile with all 9 essential Amino Acids, including L-Arginine as well as Magnesium, it's a superfood that our bodies can thrive on. In the supply chain, the impact of growing hemp can provide farmers with another crop to help diversify which can provide relieve from volatility in the commodities market. Studies show that hemp removes disproportionate amounts of Carbon from the atmosphere and the fibers really give us a resource that has the potential to replace the fossil fuels used in an enormous amount of the consumer products that we are surrounded by, from car parts to construction materials.
Do you have a favorite hemp product use/recipe that you would like to share?
I love Pesto. It's delicious fresh or frozen and I'm usually overflowing in basil in the summer months This recipe using hemp hearts isn't very different than traditional recipe... just fortified with the Hemp Hearts providing healthy oils and high quality protein!
WHAT YOU NEED
½ cup hemp seeds
2 garlic clove
2 cups chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup hemp seed oil
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Pulse the hemp seeds and garlic in a food processor. Add the basil and pulse again.
Add the lemon juice and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper and pulse again.
While the blade is running, drizzle in the oil. Scrape the sides of the food processor, if necessary, and pulse again. Season to taste... maybe some red chili flakes if you're feeling frisky.