With the decline in tobacco production, Kentucky farmers several years ago turned to beef cattle as a replacement venture. “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” became a Beef Industry Council ad campaign that swept the state and the nation.
But now a new slogan for a new crop taking Kentucky by storm may be just as pertinent: “Hemp. It’s What’s For Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.”
Industrial hemp production is taking Kentucky by storm. In addition to numerous applications to grow and manufacture hemp fiber for use in manufacturing and hemp plants for producing medicinal oils, hemp seed is being processed for use as an ingredient in many food products.
In fact, one major promoter of hemp-based foods is right here in Kentuckiana.
California native Chad Rosen has found his niche in the Kentucky hemp market with Victory Hemp Foods.
San Diego native Chad Rosen, 38, moved to Henry County, Ky., two years ago to get involved at the ground level of the Kentucky’s new but fast-growing industrial hemp program. He claims to be the first nonfarmer to plant hemp in Kentucky after having cultivated a crop in a field in New Castle.
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Rosen formed his company in November 2014 in New Castle and immediately began developing contacts at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and among local farmers and Ag extension agents. Today, his company, Victory Hemp Foods, works with several Kentucky farmers to produce hemp and then markets the product to make hemp cookies and other hemp-based foods and ingredients. He recently moved his company to the former SunOpta factory in the Butchertown neighborhood of Louisville.
“I moved to Kentucky because of the strong legislation we’ve seen in the state to support this crop,” Rosen said. “I actually believe it provides a lot of solutions to a lot of the problems that we face.”
Last year, Rosen’s company had 195 acres of hemp under contract with area farmers.
Rosen helps the farmers acquire hemp seed to plant in their fields by working with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s industrial hemp program. He currently has two farmers in Oldham County, two in Henry County and two in Shelby County growing hemp for his company.
“We help them acquire the seed and we give them a letter of intent telling them that we’ll buy their harvest and agree on a price,” he said. “We are seed to shelf so we can control the quality and price and pay our farmers good prices.”
Due to his extensive involvement and knowledge, Rosen has become a well-known player in growth of industrial hemp production throughout Kentucky.
“If you are involved in growing hemp in Kentucky, there’s a good chance you know or have met Chad. He has become a big player, especially for local farmers,” said Joseph Monroe, assistant farm manager at La Grange’s Ashbourne Farms. Monroe headed last year’s effort to grow hemp on about 11 acres at the farm, with mixed results. Nevertheless, Ashbourne Farms plans to try growing the crop again this year for the seed (see related story).
“The reason why hemp is so exciting is because it’s incredibly nutritional,” Rosen said. “It’s got one of the most incredible protein profiles of any of the plant-based proteins out there.”
Rosen claims to be the only “vertically integrated hemp company outside of Colorado.” His food and seed-based products are sold in Rainbow Blossom and Good Foods Co-op stores in Louisville and at the recently opened Traderbaker’s Farm Market in La Grange. He is working on plans to soon have them available at area Kroger stores and Whole Foods Market.
“Our plant in Louisville is growing, and we hope to soon have our products in 25 retailers across Kentucky,” Rosen said. The plant focuses on producing hemp hearts, hemp oil and hemp protein powder. We sell our products directly to consumers and also to bulk food manufacturers.”
Rosen said his newest addition for 2017 will be a hemp ingredient to make pasta. “It’s delicious,” he said. There will also be a new hemp oil-based salad dressing coming out, plus a hemp seed butter, which is similar to peanut butter and made from roasted hemp hearts.
“We are advocates and educators of hemp production and products,” Rosen said. He travels the country speaking at events about the hemp market and supply chain. He also sits on the Hemp Industry Association Board.
More information can be found online at www.VictoryHempFoods.com.
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