Know your hemp seed: 5 minutes with Cameron Sims
With hemp seeds turning mainstream, we asked Plant Culture’s Cameron Sims a few questions to help us better understand it.
Hemp as a food is new territory for most people. Is it legal and is it safe? The seed of hemp is the world’s most nutrient-dense and our ancestors have been eating it for thousands of years. There are 12 legal hemp varieties of cannabis we can grow in New Zealand with a licence. Currently Plant Culture legally sells the oil pressed from the seed as a gourmet culinary oil for human consumption. Jamie Oliver puts it on his icecream! Other processed parts of the seed — like the hulled seed and high protein by-products of oil production — are strangely still considered animal food. We sell hulled seed and protein as animal food. Thousands of Kiwis are secretly eating it because it’s a great source of protein and omega 3. The New Zealand hemp industry is eagerly anticipating the legislation update later this year enabling all hemp seed foods for human consumption. This change follows Australia’s lead; they beat us to it in November 2017, implementing the proposed legislation from Australia New Zealand Food Standards Authority (ANZFSA). In April 2017, David Bennett [then NZ Minister for Food Safety] said [low THC] hemp seed was considered safe and nutritious.
What is your background? How and why did you start Plant Culture? I grew up on a sheep and beef farm playing rugby etc. At uni in 2014 I realised New Zealand’s primary protein and fibre exports need diversification to maintain our clean green image. Hemp is the perfect crop to feed the growing population and diversify our agriculture plant-based proteins and omegas while carbon sequestering and cleaning up the soils. Plant Culture is my vehicle to use hemp seed to transform consumer culture from unhealthy and unsustainable to rejuvenating our bodies and our global backyard.
Where do you source your hemp products? We work with growers around New Zealand and import from Canada when we sell out. Why should we include hemp in our diet? It’s the world’s most nutrient-dense seed. Three tablespoons provides over 100 per cent of our recommended daily intake of magnesium. Per 100g, hemp seed contains more protein and iron than steak, more omega 3 than tuna, more dietary fibre than oats. It’s a super seed that is delicious and versatile addition to every Kiwi kitchen.
What’s easiest to use — the seeds, oil or protein powder? The seeds or the oil. Sprinkle or drizzle on every meal.
Describe the flavour and how do we cook with it? Nutty, creamy, green. Different qualities and different forms have variations. Most people find the hulled seed tastes the best. It is best raw because omega 3 breaks down at 50C. Cooking hemp seed increases the flavour but loses some of the nutritional benefits. Hemp seed oil is not great cooking oil, it is best as a raw garnish.