PREPARE to see hemp seeds everywhere — but don’t expect to get a buzz.
The controversial seeds, which have long been associated with drug culture, will be legal to consume in food products from November 12, and have been touted as the next big ‘superfood’ packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
Some Gold Coast cafe owners even think they could overtake the ubiquitous soy and chia seeds.
Bam Bam Bakehouse owner Ursula Watts said she would “definitely”consider selling hemp seeds in smoothies.
“We’ll be looking at hemp seeds for their incredible health benefits and how we can make this part of our offerings to customers,” she said.
“By the sounds of it they’ll become as common as soy and chia (seeds).
“We love to experiment with new things so this is something that will work perfectly in salads or form part of the topping of our Barbie Smoothies.”
The hemp industry has lobbied for more than 15 years, while federal and state health ministers were concerned the seeds could affect roadside drug testing.
Until now, they have been grown in Australia only for use in cosmetics and shampoo, much to the frustration of farmers who have watched rivals in Canada, Europe and the US steal market share.
However, in April the ministers ruled low-THC hemp seeds could be consumed safely (THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s hallucinogenic effects).
Hemp Foods Australia CEO Paul Benhaim said hemp seeds were “exceptionally rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals”.
“With a mild, nutty flavour, hemp is a delicious and nutritious addition to many foods,” he said.
One Gold Coast couple, Nicky and Jimmy Balint have even started a business called ‘Hemp Yeah’ selling hemp-infused gelato and lollipops, which they anticipate will “take off”.
“We started making the products in April when we heard that hemp would be legalised,” Mr Balint said.
“Our gelato is vegan, it’s very healthy and clean and the hemp seeds are packed with nutrients, high in fibre, protein and omega 3 and 6.
“There are farmers who grow the plants and then supply us with the seeds ... there is a big confusion about hemp and cannabis, hemp does not contain a high amount of the (halllucengent) component of marijuana.
“Our gelato and lollipops won’t get you high.”
The pair, originally from Hungary, said the legalisation of hemp would put Australia in line with the rest of the world.
“It is frustrating it’s been illegal for so long,” Ms Balint said.
“It’s just like any other superfood, and it’s legal almost everywhere else in the world, including Hungary.
“Australia needs this superfood, it could definitely become as popular as acai, for sure.”
’Hemp Yeah’ products will be available at many health food stores from Monday.
Meanwhile, a number of popular cafes including Cardamom Pod and Blendlove have expressed interest in incorporating the seeds into menu items.
Riki-Lee Gilbert, co-owner of Southport cafe Blendlove said she supported the decision to legalise the seeds.
“The only reason we’ve never used them is because they were illegal,” she said.
“But there are so many health benefits, especially in terms of their high protein level.
“I think it was a great decision to legalise it.”
WHEN I was sent to taste test Australia’s first hemp seed gelato, I couldn’t believe my boss was asking me to get high on the job.
‘What if I get drug tested on the way home? Is this even legal?’ I thought to myself.
Nicky and Jimmy Balint of Hemp Yeah informed me pretty quickly that no, hemp seeds don’t give you a buzz.
Rather they’re a superfood.
But unlike other tasteless super foods (I’m looking at you chia seeds), hemp sits somewhere between a seed and a nut on the flavour-scale, delivering hints of almond to the vanilla gelato I taste tested.
I know I’m pretty open-minded but I wondered what others thought about consuming these seeds.
So I hit the hill (Burleigh Hill, to be exact) to ask locals what they thought of the new trend.
Palm Beach resident Lizzy Carne, mum to a nine-month-old bub said she’d be willing to give it a try.
“I guess I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat it, but I’d definitely try it once,” she said.
Another resident Jordan Stables, 22, of Currumbin said it was “very Gold Coast”.
“I think there will definitely be mixed opinions,” she said.
“But it seems like something the Gold Coast would jump on board with.”
But my favourite comment of the day came from a bloke named Josh Ryan.
“F*** yeah I’d try that,” he said.
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