Any Italian will tell you: pasta is healthy and makes you feel good. But what about spaghetti made from cannabis?
Farmers from southern Italy presenting their wares at a London food festival this week say their hemp pasta, oil and bread won’t get you high, but do provide a healthy, tasty alternative to the traditional, wheat variety.
“Hemp food is truly organic,” said Marzio Ilario Fiore, 30, whose farm in the Molise region produces hemp oil and flour. “Hemp requires no pesticides, no fertilizers, and only moderate amounts of water.” Cannabis is most often associated with the psychoactive effects of marijuana, but some strains of the plant can also be cultivated for food.
High-growing varieties called hemp, which contain negligible levels of the drug THC, have long been grown to produce food and other products. Italy lifted a ban on hemp cultivation in 1998.
“My crop gets regularly checked by Italian police inspectors to ensure that THC is within the legal limit,” said Fiore, one of some 200 Italian food artisans in London for the three-day Bellavita (“Beautiful Life”) Expo.
As well as spaghetti made from hemp flour, he provided tastings of hemp taralli – hard savory biscuits from southern Italy – and hemp oil, which has a distinctive, nutty flavor.
Hemp seeds are one of the richest sources of vegetarian protein, with high concentrations of omega fatty acids, growers say.