Most MNN readers likely have some hemp in the house — whether it’s hemp cereal in the kitchen, hemp clothes in the closet, or hemp soap in the bathroom. I’ve got all of the above — plus hemp napkins besides. After all, hemp’s super-versatile plant — and it’s known for growing easily without pesticides. Add in the nutritional benefits of hemp foods — like high Omega-3 content — and it’s no wonder why many environmentalists are hot for hemp.

There is a problem with hemp products, however. If you live in the U.S., none of the hemp you buy’s local. That’s a real conundrum for locavores and local economy advocates alike. Why are we importing all our hemp stuff, instead of growing it ourselves? It’s illegal to grow hemp in the U.S., thanks to laws that don’t distinguish between marijuana plants that get you high, and industrial hemp plants that don’t.

That’s why this week’s Hemp History Week, organized by some of my favorite green brands — Dr. Bronner’sManitoba HarvestNature’s Path and Nutiva. Basically, this week-long effort’s intended to re-legalize industrial hemp farming in the U.S.

The effort’s got some high-profile eco-celebs behind it. “Clueless” actress and “The Kind Diet” author Alicia Silverstone and holistic wellness guru Dr. Weil have put their names behind the cause, for one. If you want to join their ranks, you can sign a petition to allow U.S. farmers to grow hemp. Want to go further? Write your elected representatives about the same. In California, State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) has promised this year to reintroduce a bill to allow California farmers to grow industrial hemp, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, I’m celebrating Hemp History Week by enjoying some delicious hemp dishes — like this Cabbage Hemp Salad (recipe from “Crazy Sexy Diet“). Since it’s strawberry season here, I’ve also made this Blueberry Hemp Shake — substituting blueberries for farmers market strawberries.

My tips for healthy hemp shopping? As usual, opt for organic products. For food, hemp seeds and oils are nice, clean, simple choices to add on to salads and smoothies. I usually get hemp seeds from the bulk bin; Manitoba Harvest‘s organic hemp oils and sees are also tasty if you don’t have the bulk bin option at your local store. I do also get hemp milks and protein powders for smoothies — but since many of those have sugar added to them, I like to read the ingredients and choose the unsweetened stuff.

Right now, many Whole Foods stores have Hemp History Week displays and discounts — so stop by before May 10 to take advantage of those. And Hemp History Month events are happening across the country this week. Check the events list to find one near you.

What’s your favorite hemp-y dish?

Bottom photo by Siel Ju

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