by Libby James
North Forty News
“This is the new normal,” said Mark Basser, associate publisher of Sensi Magazine, a cannabis-oriented publication on the verge of going national. Along with a hundred or so others, Basser was enjoying an elegant “Hemp and Seed” dinner on a balmy summer evening in the middle of a hemp field in Milliken, Colorado.
As the sun set over the mountains, candlelight began to flicker in the center of two rows of long tables on the dry, bumpy ground of the Colorado prairie, set up to accommodate 100 diners attired in everything from jeans to fancy long dresses. Brady Price, owner of Organic Innovations farm near Milliken, had never had so many guests. He raises hemp on a five-acre plot and has plans to expand.
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Appetizers included lettuce-wrapped smoked trout and a blueberry chamomile “summer sipper,” and guests enjoyed an heirloom tomato salad with melon, radish and basil. With it came Swiss chard bundles stuffed with cauliflower, Evo hemp seed, fried rice and pork sausage. Mini hemp-zucchini bread muffins were accompanied by duck bacon and onion marmalade.
Wagyu tri-tip steak with chimichurri sauce, nasturtium flowers and local greens followed. The meal concluded with a dessert of grilled Colorado peaches with pillows of meringue, local honey, Evo hemp crunch and SteepFuze coffee.
Each of the courses was planned by chef Melissa Harrison of Seasonal Montana, a farm-to-table catering company, to incorporate cannabis pairings from Organic Alternatives based in Fort Collins. No cannabis was infused in any of the dishes. Because marijuana can only be purchased at a licensed dispensary, guests were asked to purchase a “goody bag” of suggested pairings and add them to the dishes as they were served. They included different marijuana strains, edibles, extracts and vape cartridges chosen to pair with each food and drink course.
The dinner was presented by Mason Jar Event Group, whose founder, Kendal Norris, orchestrates events designed to bring people together to share cannabis, distinctive cuisine, cocktails and live music in unique locations across the state. Established in Boulder in 2015, the company’s name was inspired by the mason jar, a southern symbol of good times and events that strengthen friendships and families. Tp stay informed about future Mason Jar events, visit http://masonjareventgroup.com/upcoming-mason-jar-events/
“It’s refreshing to be at an event where it isn’t a negative thing to be consuming cannabis,” said Maka Kalai, director of sales and marketing for Organic Alternatives, a sponsor of the event. “It’s good to be out in the open.”
Many of the dinner guests were connected with the cannabis industry and expressed their commitment to enhancing the image of the growing industry. Along with Organic Alternatives, Organa Brands and BDS Analytics were sponsors for the event. Also hosting were Evo Hemp, dedicated to building a sustainable local hemp food industry in the United States. Host company marQaha works to create ingestible forms of cannabis by blending it with other plants and ingredients, and Extract Consultants is committed to serving the industry by improving the effectiveness of cannabis products and maintaining quality standards.
As the night wore on, the sense of camaraderie grew, enhanced by the music of The Good Kind band. There was lots of laughter. Conversation was animated. New friendships formed.
By 10 p.m., the music had quieted. The guests began heading for their cars and for the bus that brought diners from Boulder and Fort Collins. And Brady Price’s farm was quiet once again.