There’s one new healthy food product coming out of Angus that you should be introducing into your diet. It’s made from a crop that used to be commonplace across Angus for centuries, although for most of us it will be a relatively new addition to the menu.
Keen to learn more about this wonderful (and not so new) new super food, Appetite For Angus paid a visit to one of our members to find out a bit more.
Alison Easson, owner of Hemp It Up, produces hemp seed oil from plants grown on the family farm. They joined with a group of likeminded farmers in 2021 to see how easy it was to actually grow Hemp in Scotland. Since then they have formed the Scottish Hemp Growers Association and are working closely with the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen. The Rowett Institute are working on a 5 year project funded by Scot Gov looking at all health and environmental benefits which may lead to future opportunities for the commercialisation of hemp in Scotland.
Now, if you don’t know then just ask and there were plenty of questions that popped in our heads when it comes to hemp. So let’s begin with the basics.
- What is Hemp seed oil?
- It’s a green culinary oil made from cold pressing Hemp seeds.
- Can anyone grow it?
- No, you need to have a Licence to grow in Scotland. John (Alison’s husband) is licensed to grow it to harvest the seeds only.
- Will it make me high?
- No you will not get high when using hemp seed oil, as it contains no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and little to no CBD.
Ok, so there are the basics. Now let’s dig a little deeper into Hemp it Up and why their oil is a product you need in your kitchen.
“The first reason we looked at hemp seed oil was for the health benefits. It really is an amazingly beneficial oil and is jam packed full of Omega, 3, 6 and 9. It’s so full of goodness that you only need to add 10g per day to your diet to help reduce your cholesterol and improve overall heart health.” says Alison. “Due to its perfect ratio of Omega 3 the list of health benefits are endless.”
Time to take the dip
Currently Hemp it Up sells their oil as it comes; cold and slow pressed. But as I dip some artisan bread into one of the three bowls containing a selection of her oil infused with garlic, balsamic vinegar and chilli I’m not really thinking about the healthy side of things. I’m concentrating on the taste. It’s lovely and I’m wondering what cheese and wine I’ll have with it. Alison is currently experimenting with her recipes to create a range of dips and I’m more than happy to volunteer as chief taster.
A guest appearance from Alison’s hard working farmer husband, John, offers some insight into what he thinks about some of the benefits from growing hemp in his fields. “We planted hemp as a break crop on one of our poorer fields. It faired well and after we topped and ploughed in the stalks as a green fertiliser we had one of our best barley yields the following season.” Indeed the Scottish Hemp project is looking at the many different ways that hemp could be utilised including uses as building products and as a bio fuel.
A very sustainable crop that needs to be recognised
Environmentally Hemp is definitely a crop that the UK should be growing more of. Numerous studies show that when you grow Hemp (Cannabis Sattiva), it can remove (sequester) 4 times as much CO2 from the atmosphere than trees can in a third of the time. Now, that’s pretty amazing! AND it is good for rejuvenating the soil due to the residual organic matter and strong rooting system.
But Alison pointed out an inconsistency in that “when farmers complete a carbon audit of their farm and submit to the Scottish Government Rural Payments Inspection Directorate they receive more points for growing trees based on to their ability to clean the environment of CO2. Currently farmers don’t receive any additional points for growing hemp as this is currently not recognised for capturing carbon on the Scot Gov site. If we as a nation want to become net zero quicker, improve our health and our soils we really do need SGRPID to give us some incentives and recognise Hemp as a valuable crop.”
Getting the most out of everything grown on the farm is essential and their first pressing of hemp seed released about 15% oil and left behind 85% raw material that can be used as rather beneficial by products. This ‘press cake’ can be fed to livestock as it is particularly high in protein and fibre or alternatively ground into a protein rich powder and a gluten free flour it can be taken as a health supplement for human consumption similarly to whey protein. Don’t be surprised if you find it at your local gym soon.
Alison is keen for more people to discover hemp seed oil and learn about its many health benefits and is also excited to develop exciting new products from the protein powder. Watch this space.
So, with all these amazing health benefits, agricultural sustainability and a flavoursome product we can see a bright future for the growth of hemp seed oil in Angus. We’re sure it won’t be long until many more of us will be going to want to Hemp it Up soon. If you do you’ll be able to find Hemp it Up oil at these shops throughout Angus
- Milton Haugh, Carmylie
- Smithies Deli, Arbroath
- The Longer Table in Kirriemuir
- Mill of Inverarity Farm shop
- Peel Farm, Lintrathen
- Ardler Tavern
- Farmers markets will be something Alison will start going to in the new year
You can follow Hemp it Up on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates and you will be able to buy online from Jan 2023.