The use of hemp seed as a human food spans back thousands of years. It was a staple of the Chinese diet through the 10th century. The Record of Rites or Li Chi, an ancient book of classical Confucian works, places hemp among the five grains of ancient China, which included barley, rice, wheat, and soybeans.
Grown for its strong and useful fibers through the ages, Cannabis hemp has been equally valued as a food source. It is said that hemp was eaten to remain fertile, strong, and vigorous.
The seed contains all nine essential amino acids, both essential fatty acids (Linoleic acid, Alpha linolenic acid), as well as a wide variety of valuable minerals (iron, copper, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and several vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and E). Hemp seed, therefore, is a nutraceutical, a product that is both food and medicine.
A variety of ingredients can be derived from the hemp seed. When pressed, the seeds yield a nutty oil and the seed makes a high protein cake when ground into flour for baking. The oil contains all the beneficial fatty acids, the flour holds all the nutritive protein, while the nut contains both. The flour can be baked in a variety of breads and desserts. Be sure to use the oil raw since heating will damage its fatty acid profile. It is excellent in dressing salads. The chemical instability of this oil makes proper storage critical. Remember to always store hemp oil in a cool and dark place.