There were surely some double takes on the daily commute this morning, as media reports announced hemp seeds might be approved for food use in Australia by late 2016.
Yesterday, Food Standards Australia New Zealand announced the decision to permit foods made from hemp in the country, which are currently banned within Australia.
Over in the US and the UK, the market for hemp-based foods is booming, with the stuff seen in everything from granola, to non-dairy milks, even protein powders.
But to be clear, we’re talking ‘Low THC’ (tetrahydrocannabinol) hemp, free of the chemical responsible for marijuana’s intoxicating effects. So if not for the natural high, what’s all the fuss about?
Well for one, those calling for legalisation of hemp in Aus cite it’s impressive nutrient profile as reason enough.
According to Dr Trent Watson, just 30g, or a tablespoon of hemp seeds offer around 11g of protein. Compare that to the same amount of cheese, which offers only 8g, and an egg, with 6g a pop. They’re also a great source of omega 3 fats, a smart choice for a healthy heart.
But in reality, these same benefits can be found from more conventional nuts and seeds, like almonds, cashews, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. And as Dr Watson, an Accredited Practising Dietitian points out; the grand claims used by those selling hemp products aren’t really backed up by solid clinical research.
So will we be seeing hemp seeds pop up in the local supermarket? We’ll soon find out, with the proposal now available for public comment, and a decision expected later this year.