6.02.2014

Interview with Mike Fata, CEO & Co-Founder of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods


Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers about yourself? How did you get started?
Mike Fata: As a teen, I was overweight and unhappy from eating too much processed & fast food. Tired of being sick and tired, I turned to the then popular no-fat diets. Cutting almost all fat from my diet I lost significant weight but still felt sick and tired. I realized I was depriving my body of essential nutrients and needed to start consuming “good-fats.” Largely through hemp foods I learned about the importance of good fats (omegas), protein, fiber, and other nutrients. Hemp foods basically transformed my life. I started Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods because I wanted to share hemp foods with everyone.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods? How did that begin?
Mike Fata: My two friends and I started Manitoba Harvest after helping to legalize Industrial Hemp in Canada back in 1998. Given my personal health transformation, focusing exclusively on hemp foods was a no-brainer. Back then there was no hemp foods industry, so we had nothing to learn from or build upon. It was up to us to build both a company and an industry.
Today, Manitoba Harvest is the world’s largest hemp food manufacturer to grow, make, and sell our own line of hemp food products.

Sarah Velasco: What is your mission?
Mike Fata: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods’ mission is to manufacture and market the highest quality hemp food products, to educate on the health and environmental benefits of hemp, and to strive for sustainability in all that we do.

Sarah Velasco: What is Hemp?
Mike Fata: Hemp is a plant that has been around for thousand of years and is now primarily grown in Western Canada. Hemp is a species of the Cannabis sativa plant family, but is VERY different from its cannabis cousin(s). It is like comparing a chihuahuas and a great dane – both are dogs but look and behave differently. Hemp contains 0.001% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and will NOT cause a psychoactive effect nor will our products cause a false positive drug test.
There is a use for pretty much every part of the hemp plant. At Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods we focus exclusively on the hemp seed – which is at the ‘heart’ of all hemp food products.  

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about some health benefits?
Mike Fata: Hemp foods are rich in essential nutrients needed for good health - good fats (omegas), protein & fiber.
The World Health Organization recommends a ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3s of 4:1. Hemp foods have the closest to ideal ratio at 3.75:1. Included in hemp foods’ omegas is the rare Omega-6 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), which has been shown to help with skin & hair health, heart health, hormone balancing, and inflammation.
Hemp protein is a complete plant-based protein that is easy to digest. Hemp foods are also packed with magnesium (“Mother Nature’s muscle relaxant) and other nutrients.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about the products you carry?
Mike Fata: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods offers a range of products from our popular Hemp Hearts raw shelled hemp seed to a full line up of hemp protein powders to hemp oil.
All of our products are Non-GMO Project verified, and offered at thousand of retailers across North America.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about Hemp Hearts? What are they? Nutritional benefits?
Mike Fata: Hemp Hearts taste great, are easy to use, and sooo good for you!
The soft seeds taste like a lovechild of pine nuts and sunflower seeds. Sprinkle on cereal, salad, yogurt or pretty much anything. Add to smoothies or recipes. Or, simply eat straight from the bag. Per 30g serving, Hemp Hearts offers 10g of protein and 10g of omegas.

Sarah Velasco: How can it be consumed?
Mike Fata: It’s more like how can’t Hemp Hearts be consumed! Hemp Hearts truly are so versatile and easy to use. Use as a garnish or topping. Use in baking. Use as breading on fish. Hemp Hearts make a great base for spreads and homemade beverages. Plus, Hemp Hearts do not contain any known allergens. Check out manitobaharvest.com for kid-friendly homemade hemp butter or hemp ‘milk.’

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers two popular recipes to try using Hemp Hearts? 
Mike Fata: My favorite use for Hemp Hearts really is just to sprinkle over salad. As for recipes – try my Hemp Heart Hummus burrito. Check it out here:
http://manitobaharvest.com/recipes/3973/Hemp-Hummus-Burrito.html

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers find your products?
Mike Fata: Hemp Hearts are available online at manitobaharvest.com, at thousands of health food & grocery stores, and even mass retailers like Costco. To find a retailer closest to you, check out our store locator here:
http://manitobaharvest.com/find_us.html