This product comes from Greg Perez, the ex-chef and owner at the now-shuttered Grateful Inn
, formerly located on Manchester Road in Maplewood. Since the restaurant, which featured several hemp-based dishes on the menu, closed in March of last year, Perez has focused on expanding his salad dressing business
For the uninitiated, hemp is a cousin of cannabis sativa (aka: marijuana, pot, cheeba, etc.) but it contains no THC, the psychoactive ingredient responsible for giggling, the munchies, and a fondness for the band Phish.
But while hemp oil
doesn't get you high, it's impossible not to associate the stuff with its reefer relative. So after whipping up a salad of spring greens, grated carrots, black olives and red onions for the vinaigrette and chopping up some carrots and celery for dipping in the ranch, we enlisted a trio of local stoners to put the product to the ultimate taste test.
As far as I know, hemp cultivation is still illegal in the United States, but virtually every other industrialized country in the world grows the stuff. In addition to its use as a food stuff, hemp oil, which is pressed from the plant's seeds, is used in everything from soap and shampoo to ink and biodiesel. Because it contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids
, it has a relatively high nutritional value.
Ironically, though, hemp oil isn't the first oil ingredient listed in either dressing--it's soybean oil. And at 170 calories and 20 grams of fat per two tablespoon serving, it isn't exactly the healthiest alternative to those waistline-expanding dressings at the supermarket either.
Still, other than the hippy-friendly packaging, the dressings look and smell normal. The ranch is a tad more runny than standard stuff and the vinaigrette looked like a green-tinted olive oil. The vin also listed apple-cider vinegar as one of the main ingredients.
The taste-testers, who asked not to be named in order to protect them from Michael Phelps-style post-pot-consumption prosecution, were clearly skeptical of a snack involving so many vegetables. Still, they dug in with gusto.
The ranch was the clear favorite. The carrot and celery sticks were gone in a matter of minutes. A sampling of their comments:
"If you didn't tell me it was hemp oil I wouldn't have even known. I would have thought it was my mom's weight-watcher dressing or something."
"The ranch is bomb. It tastes like dank weed."
"The celery is delicious. Did you know you celery counts for negative calories? You burn more calories chewing it than you do ingesting it."
The salad with the vinaigrette was markedly less popular. After one of the guinea pigs took a heaping plateful, the others were content to nibble from the bowl. Their thoughts:
"It's not flavorful, there's not much to it. It doesn't really taste like much, just oil."
"Definitely, there's no flavor. It looks like vinaigrette, it's oily and vinegary but there's not much flavor."
"I don't like black olives. I always try to convince myself that I like them but I never do."
"Does it get you high? No? It would be better if it was made from hash oil."
Half of the salad was left in the bowl (the serving bowl, mind you) but the testers were clearly done with their meal. Their closing remarks:
"He should make hemp ice cream instead."
"Let's go get some Girl Scout cookies."
"Ooh, how about Applebees?"