Hemp Seeds — Healthy or Hype?

hemp_heartsI have been hearing  a lot about the health benefits of eating hemp seeds these days and a couple of grocery stores I shop at, carry them. I was talking with the produce guy at Ralph’s — too mainstream to carry something like that… yet — and we got to talking about hemp. I told him about seeing hemp seeds for sale in natural food stores and he raised a good question, I am not sure about — so I am throwing it out there to you dear readers. My produce guy said –” The government is not going to allow fertile hemp seeds to be sold in stores, so in order to make sure the hemp seed cannot be used to grow ‘weed’ — it will need to be irradiated. Radiation will kill off any nutritional value.” Hmmmm interesting point. But I do see advertisements for raw hemp seeds. Are the hemp seeds sold in stores the same seeds used to grow pot? I really have no idea but I think someone out in blogger land has the answer… So what say you???



5 thoughts on “Hemp Seeds — Healthy or Hype?

  1. I think it’s all a line of cock and bull, since the government is bankrupt, and selling hemp is revenue….so there’s my 2 cents worth!

  2. Hello Inge. Unfortunately, hemp and marijuana have been thought as the same by most people. However, while they are both from a Cannabis plant, they are as different as a Chihuahua is from a St. Bernard. These are both dogs, but you would hardly mistake one for the other. The story of how hemp and marijuana became “evil weeds” in the US begins with the development of Rayon by DuPont in the 1920s with the financing of the Mellon Bank. Suffice it to say that regulations and taxed made the farming of hemp irrelevant by the late 20s early 30s. Interestingly, during World War II, the US government spent $10MM subsidizing the growth of hemp to aid in the war effort, even producing a movie (Hemp for Victory, available for free on YouTube). When the war was “won”, regulations were enforced anew.

    Hemp can be cultivated in the US so long as one obtains a permit from the DEA. This requires an 8-ft. fence along the entire perimeter of the farm, topped with barbed wire, lighting of the entire cultivar during darkness, locked door, and the entire cultivar must be guarded 24/7. The last entity to obtain such a permit was the State of Hawaii in 1999 for an experimental crop. That permit expired long ago. Of course, today, a lot of state are allowing the farming of hemp. Unfortunately, most people still refer to “marijuana” as “hemp”, particularly when referring to “hemp oil” as a cancer treatment. While hemp seed oil is a great tasting and very healthy culinary oil, its effectiveness in treating cancer has not been researched.

    Having said all that, one can obtain non-irradiated hemp seed foods. In fact, by law, no organic food may be irradiated if appropriately labeled (see, CFR,, Vol. 65, Section 205.105(f). Civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation are provided under Section 205.105(g).).

    There are many factors that affect the quality of hemp seed foods. Was the plant grown without herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, etc.? Was it cleaned mechanically or with toxic chemicals? Was it processed in a facility free of other nuts to prevent possible cross-contamination? Was the oil pressed at temperatures below 50C? Was it processed and packaged in an oxygen-free environment? Beyond that, is the company Earth-conscious? Does it have sustainable farming processes? Is the packaging recyclable or even compostable? And a slew of other factors.

    Best wishes, Jean-Pierre Ruiz

    Full disclosure: I am the founder of EcoStar Health, Inc,, an online retailer of premium hemp seed foods, and organic or wild-crafted body care products formulated by Tracy Darling, MD, as well as human-grade organic pet foods (coming soon).

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