In 18th-century America, people were still punished if they refused to grow hemp. Artists such as van Gogh and Rembrandt painted their works on hemp linen. And hemp was even once used to produce fuel for cars. In Switzerland, however, hemp has only just become one of the crop plants worth cultivating our farm fields for. For a long time, hemp was labelled a drug, but there is more to the herb than just its intoxicating qualities. Especially if you focus on industrial hemp.

With its seeds, industrial hemp can also find its place in today's kitchen. Whether as hemp oil, hemp cookies, hemp tea or hemp chocolate – the culinary possibilities of hemp are almost limitless.

Hemp as food

"Hemp is predestined for organic cultivation", explains Christian Hirschi in an article about the crop plant at BioAktuell.ch. And he should know, because Christian Hirschi is responsible for the communications of FiBL, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture. Based in Switzerland, the foundation has been conducting research into organic agriculture for 40 years and has dealt extensively with previously-forbidden hemp during this time.

The fact that the crop plant is so well-suited to organic cultivation plays into the hands of the current trend for clean eating. Clean eating involves avoiding industrially processed food. Instead, proponents are turning to natural wholefood products that are already full of superpowers. And there are plenty of them in hemp seeds.

What does hemp taste like?

"It varies greatly", says Rebecca Clopath. The chef is very familiar with hemp seeds, since she has published a recipe booklet containing ten different recipes. In her book, Rebecca explains everything you need to know about hemp seeds and shows you the best way to integrate the superfood – which also thrives in Switzerland – into your diet.

Rebecca says that toasted hemp seeds taste like peanuts and hazelnuts, "and a little bit like popcorn", she reveals. "As a pesto it tastes more like toasted sesame seeds, and in pasta hemp seeds remind me of buckwheat", says Rebecca.

And which aromas do hemp seeds go particularly well with? Rebecca even has an answer for this: "If we're talking about the Alpine region, I always love combining them with pears or sea buckthorn", says the chef. "If we’re thinking further afield, my absolute favourite is a combination of hemp seeds and bananas."

Hemp seeds are also well-suited as a topping for salads and muesli, and are even great for giving smoothies a more creamy consistency. You can also do a lot with hemp oil, although Rebecca recommends avoiding heating the oil in order to keep the omega-3 fatty acids intact: "For pasta, it's best to put the oil on the table so that everyone can have as much or as little as they like."

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An abundance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are hidden away in the small seeds that can be used in modern cuisine as a topping, oil or simply as a snack. In addition, hemp seeds are full of proteins and dietary fibre. The seeds are also a source of vitamin E, which has an antioxidant effect, and vitamins B1, B2 and B6. And the fact that you can now buy hemp seeds in stores as a drink, dressing, protein, oil or simply as seeds makes it even easier.

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