Healthy hemp foods may soon be on the Aussie kitchen table with regulators set to approve the plant for human consumption in April 2017.
Legislation changes are due to go before the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation next year, when the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meet. Industry leaders keenly awaiting the decision which will pave the way for Australians to reap the health, economic and environmental benefits of a healthy local hemp food industry.
Australia’s largest grower of hemp, Hemp Foods Australia, believes the decision would be significant for the economy, environment and the health of Australians.
The international market for hemp foods is currently estimated at $1 billion annually. If approved, demand for Australian hemp foods is expected to quadruple.
Hemp Foods Australia founder, Paul Benhaim, said Australian hemp farmers are excited about the prospective legalisation of the crop as a food and its separation from marijuana. “This is a very positive step towards more sustainable farming in Australia – in addition to added job opportunities for Australia’s farming industry.”
“Food Standards Australia and New Zealand has recommended that low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the pyscho-active ingredient in marijuana) hemp be approved as a food in Australia. We have to remember that hemp is not marijuana and contains no or very low levels of THC, the drug component of marijuana,” added Mr Benhaim.
Australian farmer, Harry Youngman has welcomed the impending approval of hemp as a food.
“Hemp is one of the most versatile and eco-friendly crops in the world and many areas of Australia are perfect for growing hemp,” Mr Youngman said. “Demand is building internationally for hemp as a source of paper, clothing, building materials, fuel and as a food. We’re really hoping for approval to allow hemp as a food so that Aussie farmers can build their businesses and capitalise on the pent up demand.”
In addition to the benefits for Australia’s farmers, hemp is also one of the most versatile and eco-friendly substances on the planet and is gaining global popularity.
If approved, Australia could save 2 billion litres of water per year simply by replacing cotton farming with hemp. This simple change could remove over 10 million kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“In addition to this, as a food, hemp is a highly nutritious source of plant-based protein and can be used as food ingredients like flour, oil and protein powder” Mr Benhaim said.
“Hemp is a plant-based, rich source of Omegas, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and is also free from soy and diary. Hemp seeds contain more polyunsaturated fatty acids than any other food and are the only food to contain Omega 3 and 6 in just the right amounts to meet our nutritional needs. Just one tablespoon of Hemp seeds contains over 7,000mg of essential fatty acids."
In the right proportions, hemp has also been shown to help regulate blood clotting, body temperature, blood pressure, reproduction and immune function.
You can read more about hemp nutrition in the February 2017 issue of OH! Magazine, from our resident nutrition expert, APD Ashleigh Feltham.