Imagine: a super-plant that contains the most nutritional seed on the planet, whose oil can be cold-pressed into organic skincare products, whose fibre can be turned into everything from clothes to building materials, carpet to cars.
Oh, and it uses six times less water to grow than cotton, produces four crops a year, and locks up far more carbon than pine trees.
You’d think that governments and corporations would be falling over themselves to plant it, wouldn’t you? However, this is a plant we’ve known about for thousands of years but have shunned for more than a century.
“Hemp is humanity’s companion plant. It is in our DNA,” says Dave Jordan, chief executive of Hemp Farm NZ, which has been promoting the crop in this country since 2008 and has brought products to the market since 2011.
He and wife Anne’s company sells hemp seed oils, hemp seed and oat milk, protein powders, a skin care range and capsules to the New Zealand market.
Hemp seed oil is one of nature’s richest sources of essential fatty acids, including omega 6 and omega 3, and high protein levels. It’s a great source of vitamin E and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
“Hemp has been stigmatised and under-appreciated for decades,” he says. “But we’re working to change people’s perceptions of this valuable commercial crop.”
It’s the next stage of the industrial revolution, following on from the age of oil, he says. There’s massive potential to produce food for both human and animal consumption, but there’s also a lot of potential for industrial uses of hemp seed as well.
It’s important to understand that commercially grown hemp differs from its illegal cousin cannabis (marijuana). It doesn’t contain the high-inducing component THC. Last year the Government changed our food laws so that hemp seed is regarded in the same way as just another edible seed.
- Want to learn more about this wonder plant? Visit hempfarm.co.nz