Cameron Sims works with farmers in Ashburton to produce premium hemp seed products sold through Plant Culture. It's time Kiwis got into this superfood, he says.
Many people know little about oil made from hemp seeds (a non-psychoactive form of cannabis), Sims says.
“Generally no-one knows about it and they will confuse it with being high. People are surprised there’s such a nutritional aspect to cannabis.”
Compared to other countries, Kiwis have been slow to cotton on to its health benefits, he says.
“It’s the world’s most nutrient-dense seed, it’s got more protein and iron than steak per 100 grams, more omega-3 than tuna and more dietary fibre than oats.”
It tastes pretty good too, Sims says.
“I guess it’s a cross between olive oil and sesame oil; it has a nutty flavour with a green-ish flavour.
"Although it doesn’t have the bitterness of either. A lot of people just consume it by the teaspoon.”
Jamie Oliver reportedly puts hemp oil on his ice cream and it makes an excellent dressing, Sims says.
It’s not good for frying, however.
“It has a low smoke point, so it’s better for a raw garnish.”
Global demand for hemp seed is growing exponentially so it makes commercial sense for farmers in New Zealand to get into it, he says.
“The seed is the first thing you can get off the crop so you have a viable crop.”
While the other three parts of the hemp plant are considered by-products, they also have great value, Sims says.
The flower, inner stalk and outer stalk can be used, respectively, for feed, construction materials and fibre.
New Zealand has the infrastructure to process the seed but not the stalks and flowers, he says.