Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hemp Is Not Pot -- Stop Blowing Smoke Up Our Derrières!

Let's face it! I'm in the business of preparing foods. These days I do it for family and friends mostly, and I try sticking closely to what I am good at: cooking original Cajun cuisine.

I do, nevertheless, continue to learn about foods--all kinds! Anything natural that comes along which can effectively enhance the flavors of my prepared foods, plus add health benefits at the same time, seems worthy of further research and investigation as far as I'm concerned. Hemp is one fine example of what I'm talking about.


Hemp cannot be legally grown here in the U.S., except under strict government oversight for reasons of national security. In fact, I have close friends whose parents lived in Kentucky and grew hemp for the government during WWII to make rope with. Hemp, as you will learn, has dozens of other uses besides rope making.

The NET has certainly made our planet into a much smaller place in this age of instant communications. It's not hard to learn about how other countries, like Canada, New Zealand and Australia are removing their restrictions on hemp and are now growing tens of thousands of acres of it for the export market.

Oddly enough, Americans are allowed to purchase hemp products from other countries, but they can't produce their own. How stupid, as Trump would put it, is that? Lots of questions began dancing in my head as I looked for the real answers as to why. I had to go back a bit to find them out, but I think I've come up with a pretty good idea why.

I wanted to explore the main reasons why farmers here in the United States are restricted from the right to grow and process hemp for the American market and for export?

Even though this blog mostly relates to the preparation of Cajun foods, as editor, I will now and again take the liberty to express my opinions in a commentary on ways which our government gives us the proverbial shaft by pandering to lobbyist and special interest groups.

Here are a few juicy facts which I dug up and included in this article. Enjoy!

Hemp Is Not Pot -- Stop Blowing Smoke Up Our Derrières!

Lately, a few politicians have been quibbling lately, especially Marco Rubio, about how it is not presidents, governors, senators or politicians who create jobs here in America (at the same time promoting private innovations and alluding to Donald Trump's recent declaration that he would be the best job creator that God ever made), yet, I look all around me and ask you: is it not the politicians who are preventing the private sector from creating jobs?

Less government control on the private sector, in certain cases, could potentially pave the way for a trillion dollar industry here at home, as you will see in a minute.

Were it not for one archaic nonsensical law which remains on the books, and one which persist in advancing our economy's downward spiral during a time when we need an uplift, we could begin on a path of making our country more prosperous again with only one product... hemp. Let me explain.

Control over markets in the past has everything to do with the problems which plague and stymie the economic growth in America today. Many of the problems, especially with the weak economy that we are experiencing now, began many decades ago.

One example of how the early 20th-century progressive industrialists gained control over market share was to use legal channels to prevent farmers and the textile industry from capitalizing on the production and processing of hemp.

Hemp, which the Constitution of The United States is written on, was grown by our founding fathers and played a major part in this country's economic development. There was a time in America's history when British colonies were compelled by law to grow hemp.

"Hemp arrived in Colonial America with the Puritans in the form of seed for planting and as fiber in the lines, sails and caulking of the Mayflower. British sailing vessels were never without a store of hemp seed, and Britain’s colonies were compelled by law to grow hemp."

The near limitless opportunities which hemp can offer America if it can be re-introduced as a national commodity is hampered by, and relegated to, some obscure law which was passed way back in the 1930s which made it illegal to grow in the United States.

And, it remains on the books today. It reminds me of some of the wacky obsolete laws here in Texas like the time when the entire Encyclopedia Britannica was banned in this state because it contained a formula for making beer at home.

As the story goes, a disgruntled early 20th century politician discovered that his white wife was having an affair with a black man. His sad and pathetic legacy was to exact legislative revenge on the main culprit, he thought, which was to blame and the real reason for his marital demise: marijuana, which the illicit lovers were smoking when they got caught.

His argument was that Blacks, Mexicans, and Jazz Musicians were corrupting mainstream values here in America by smoking marijuana and that the 'killer' drug... as depicted in the movie "Reefer Madness" in the late 1930s, had to go.


This stupid and idiotic legal maneuver, in my opinion, was merely an opportunistic smokescreen and a legal way for the real culprits, the robber barons, who had their greedy clutches on America's main industries from the outset, like petroleum, lumber, copper, electricity, and transportation, to further prosper.

America's Gilded Age produced iconic characters like the wealthy industrialists and financiers of the time: Rockefeller, Westinghouse, Carnegie, Vanderbilt--these are some of the robber barons of the time which come to mine, whose vast fortunes were made at the expense of the working class.

Now you know the real reason why hemp was excluded as a cash crop for farmers: marijuana. Or, was all of that just a sham?.

While promoting the horrors associated with the sinister cannabis plant that could make you crazy and violent enough to kill someone, as we will see, the propaganda blitz of that time was so effective that somewhere along the way the innocent first cousin, hemp, was included in its eradication.

But, what was the real reason why that happened? You will read that the diminishing demand for hemp products came about because of  the rise of synthetic fiber materials which evolved into the new kid on the block (a bully) and introduced new products which could effectively and practically replace hemp and could be manufactured at much cheaper prices. Petroleum and its by-products played a large role.

While it is true that the introduction of new synthetic materials to the market place may have contributed to less dependency on hemp fibers, it is also worth noting that the demand for lumber and lumber products were on the rise, and America's natural forests provided easy pickings for the giants of the lumber industry.

Competition from hemp growers would certainly not have been welcomed.

To understand how this evolved and inured to the benefit of the big industrialists, we must first take into consideration a few historical truths which have come to light in the recent past.

The genius of Nicola Tesla, for example, was bottled-up and the cap screwed on so tight that no one, except for the aforementioned robber barons, could have access to his inventions and innovations.

Tesla discovered a way to 'broadcast' energy into every home as easily as we use Wi-Fi in our electronic communication devices today.

His idea was to give 'free' energy to the world. But, his patents and ideas were either stolen or purchased so that no one else could use them.

Westinghouse had other plans.

By using the obsolete method of transferring electrical energy through copper wires, Westinghouse figured out a way to profit beyond his wildest dreams by installing meters in every home and business, together with a practical way to keep track of its distribution, and charging consumers for the use of it.

Brilliant move of a greedy person. Don't you think?

His vision, of course, would include his industrialist crony friends to join in for a piece of this new, fresh-out-of-the-oven, American pie.

Wait, this is just the beginning of the story. You see, this became the perfect storm against consumers for the next 100 years and beyond, and a windfall like never before imagined, for the robber barons.

We will circle back to why the production of hemp was outlawed here in America, shortly. So, please bare with me.

For Westinghouse's plan to work would require millions of tons of copper wire, thousands of miles of telephone poles to hold the wires in place, and millions of man hours to put everything together to produce a working model.

Some historians would argue that these progressive industrialists created many jobs which were desperately needed at the time.

That may have been true, but the long-term effects of creating an electrical grid will become a large and significant part of the economic problems which was to plague future generations, including us today.

Starting to see the picture, yet?

The logging industry and lumber industry kicked into high gear to accommodate Westinghouse's plan of 'metered electricity'.

Besides poles, which mostly came from cultured pine trees and took lots of time to replenish, spin-offs from the use of lumber by-products created new markets for lumber material and became the big lumber industrialist's mainstay.

Plywood, ply board, furniture, the booming real estate and building industry, all but ensured that they [the lumber tycoons] would not go out of business anytime soon.

Except for one tiny problem... allowing farmers to grow hemp.

As previously mentioned, that would certainly interfere with the status-quo and they saw the potential threat very early in the game.

Hemp is marijuana's first cousin in the plant kingdom. They are basically identical twins on the outside as appearances go, but the difference between these two relatives is that one contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient which induces feelings of euphoria when taken internally, and the other with only negligible trace amount of the active ingredient. Marijuana versus hemp.
Hemp is a plant grown from a seed. It can grow 15-20 feet tall in the worse soil conditions. It is an annual, herbaceous, long fiber plant similar to flax (linen) and jute. It has hundreds of uses which far surpasses the benefits of lumber, lumber by-products, and even cotton.
For example, to create utility poles meant that trees have to grow upwards of 40' tall which can take a couple decades before harvesting.

One acre of hemp, on the other hand, can be harvested annually and effectively supplants 5 acres of trees.

It would be like growing 100 acres of pine trees for 20 years versus growing 1 acre of hemp, annually, for 20 years.

There is a very low carbon footprint in growing hemp and it takes a small fraction of water to produce the crop compared to the large amounts of water needed to grow pine trees to maturity.
Imagine growing one acre of hemp for the same number of years that it would take to grow 100 acres of trees?

One could plan for and be capable of sending a couple of kids to college on all the money made from just that one acre.

Hemp has several hundred uses.

It's not only to make rope from the fibers, it can be used as food, food additives, medicine, clothing, automobiles, housing construction,the list goes on for a country mile the almost limitless uses for the plant which, incidentally, far exceeds the beneficial uses that the lumber industry offers, especially its durability and cheaper cost.

It could truly become a trillion dollar industry here in America and for years to come put hundreds of thousands, if not millions (indirectly), of people to work.

But, the governments prevents us.

So, the similarities of the two plants were considered significant enough to include both of them as a Schedule 1 class controlled substance by the DEA, even though the differences between the two are like day and night. This is where the older cousin gets blamed for the mischief of the younger cousins.

Voila! Problem solved! The big boys can continue to exploit the obsolete resources of the lumber industry, and at the same time take away the rights and opportunity for farmers to grow hemp as a cash crop. No one seems to care enough to straighten out the problem.

So, in a sense, Marco Rubio and those other quibbling politicians are probably correct. Governments and politicians do not create jobs.

However, because of archaic and egregious legal prohibitions which persist in working against the common man, are they [the politicians] not, in fact, restricting Americans' rights from creating their own way of life as they do nothing to repeal, or at least attenuate the effectiveness of such ancient and crazy laws, which makes the innovators impotent and prevents progress in a big way here in America?

Please, stop blowing your smoke up our derrieres!

J.R. Gaspard ~ December 25, 2015
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Call of the Wild | Early Morning Ambushes and Cajun Duck Gumbo

Our home was situated about 100 feet from a public dirt road and about twice that distance from a large redwood barn my grandfather built to store corn, hay and farm equipment. Just behind the barn, about 20 yards away, was a small 50' x 100' pond which we dug to germinated the hundreds of sacks of rice seed prior to planting. Although the pond's main purpose was to germinate the seeds, it also served us in other ways—like raising fish and birds.

The pond was a playground for our domestic ducks and geese. About half of them were wild birds at one time before they became domesticated. You could tell which were wild and which were tamed by the color of their feet. The wild ones had green feet and the domesticated ones had yellow feet.

The lucky wild ones (the ones which were spared because only the tips of their wings were clipped by a shotgun blast during a hunt) in many cases went on to live a life of security and leisure on our farm pond.

There were times when my grandpa would nurse these 'fortunate' birds back to health and eventually release them with our domesticated birds. I gave them plenty to eat so they had no reason to leave our farm to find food elsewhere.

Many mornings, just after sunrise, (the domesticated wild ones I called them), would take flight and disappear into the horizon only to return a few moments later. Sometimes they would meet-up with a few stragglers in the sky and invite them back to our pond … and eventually to our dinner table. We had the best live decoys any duck hunter could hope for.

During the cold winter months, when we wanted to prepare duck gumbos or stews, my grandfather would walk inside the barn from the front entrance and quietly move to the back door which was purposely kept ajar a few inches—just wide enough to slide the barrel of a 12-gauge shotgun into position. He would then bag just enough wild birds to feed our family.

It was an ideal set-up. Pops didn't have to buy expensive hunting equipment or spend money on blinds and leases. I guess it was kind of like shooting fish in a barrel for him. The entire drama took less than 10 minutes and our farm birds (the live decoys) were content doing what they had always done best … quacking, flapping their wings, and playing in the water.

Have a great day. Bon Appetite!

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Angel Magic | Holiday Greetings for 2015

I would like to wish you and your family a very Cajun Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Joyous 2016 New Year

Tick here to begin animation.

Je Vous Souhaite un Bon Noel! Ahheee!!
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Sunday, December 13, 2015

What Kind of Gumbo to Cook?

Gaspard's Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
When I ponder on what kind of gumbo to cook, I first like to look in my freezer to see what's on hand... or, in the local papers to see what is on sale at the supermarket. 

Gumbo is a real Cajun dish. It is served in a soup bowl over cooked rice and garnished with chopped green onions and an optional pinch of filé lightly sprinkled on top.

Any of the following meats may be added to make a delicious gumbo: beef, pork, chicken, goose, wild duck, quail, dove, guinea, rabbit and squirrel, to name just a few. Sausage, tasso, and okra may also be added.

Seafood gumbos are made with shrimp, crab, crawfish and oysters, or a combination of these. The basics in making gumbo are the same. However, the seafood mentioned here take about 15+ minutes to cook so you should add it to the slow boiling gumbo about 15 -- 20 minutes before it is done.

Please check out these links for everything you need to make a great gumbo:

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