When Greg Herriott got into the hemp business 23 years ago, he was a pioneer.
“Back then, most people didn’t know much about hemp,” muses Herriott, president of Mettrum Originals, one of Canada’s leading hemp producers, located on a 50-acre farm in Barrie.
“Most people just thought — marijuana.”
Fast forward to today and there’s plenty of buzz surrounding hemp. Even though hemp has been a source of food and fibre for more than 10,000 years, the industry has exploded within the past three or four years.
“Hemp is definitely here to stay,” says the local businessman. “Hemp foods across North America are up over $200 million in annual sales and growing at a rate of about 20 per cent per year. And we basically started it all when we introduced the first cold pressed hemp oil back in 1995.”
From a culinary perspective, hemp is a versatile, nutrient-rich super food.
“Hemp seeds are an excellent source of Omega 3 and Omega 6, as well as a good source of fibre and protein,” Herriott says. “Nutrition aside, hemp is also very tasty.”
Just how mainstream is hemp?
“President’s Choice recently launched its own private label of hemp seeds,” he says. “Now that’s a big deal!”
Mettrum Originals provides a full range of food and skin care products. Popular items include raw, shelled hemp seeds (or hemp hearts), protein powders, various baking mixes, snack bars, hemp seed oil, salad dressings, lip balm and much more.
“We have about 33 different products,” he says.
Along with its Barrie farm, Mettrum Originals harvested more than 1,200 acres of hemp across Ontario this year. The company is also a leading grower of medicinal cannabis and employs about 120 people.
For consumers interested in checking out the local farm, tours are available. There’s also an on-site retail shop and a hemp house, which is exactly what it sounds like — a house made out of hemp.
Mettrum Originals food and skin care items are also available in Barrie at Nutrition Plus, Goodness Me and the Barrie Farmers’ Market.
“In coming months, we will also be on Sobey’s shelves,” Herriott says.
Mettrum Originals is at 2133 Forbes Rd. in Barrie. For more information, call 1-800-240-9215 or visit mettrumoriginals.com.