Introduction in “The HempNut Health and Cookbook” (2000)

HempNut: The Soybean of the New Millennium


I started working with hempseed in 1993 like most others: by buying birdseed at a local feed store. Thousands of tons of hempseed were imported into the U.S. every year for birdseed, but not for human consumption, so we used what we could get.

As a meticulously sanitary food processor, I was shocked by the low quality of the hempseed back then. It was dirty, contaminated with foreign objects from the farm, high in bacteria, and had residual THC stuck to the outside of the shells. We cleaned it thoroughly and sterilized the finished foods with pasteurization, but I was still unhappy about the whole situation. I knew we had to make the jump from animal feed to human food in order to be successful.

Eventually, after eating one too many whole hempseed bars and having to pick shells out of my teeth for the rest of the day, I said, “Enough! I want a hempseed without a shell!” So started the genesis of what today is HempNut ™ brand shelled hempseed.

First, one of my loyal and valuable staff spent days and days meticulously taking shells off hempseeds, one at a time. After days, we finally had enough to test for nutritional value: Hooray, most of the nutrition is in the kernel, with mainly fiber, some fat, and chlorophyll in the shell.

Now we knew we really did have something worth pursuing. We worked on how to shell in large quantities, testing rollers and presses and impacters and disintegrators and heat and cold and microwave and sprouting and popping and extrusion and more. Although impact shelling is the current technology for most shelling, I was not satisfied with the way it degrades the kernel and leaves small pieces of shell in the material.

I wanted something better, a technique to make the quantum leap from low-quality birdseed to a high-quality nutraceutical. After much thinking, I came up with a completely new technology resulting in better-shelled hempseed at a lower cost, with less loss, less breakage, fewer shell pieces, less bacteria, and no THC. We expect to see this patent-pending technology implemented soon. It will effect the biggest technological advance in hempseed processing ever.

When we first started shelling hempseed, I coined the brand name HempNut™ for my brand of shelled hempseed. Some like our Hemp-Nut™ brand name so much they have taken it for their own use. Based on an ancient grain, our HempNut ™ brand inspired a new segment of the food industry.

After successfully introducing more than 60 new soyfoods in the 1980s, we have plans to be quite busy for the next few years. Expect to see a number of HempNut™ brand foods from us, including organic and kosher varieties, nutritional oil, peanut butter, milk, yogurt, cheese alternative, veggie burgers, energy bars, chocolate bars, cookies, ice cream, corn chips, protein powder, and many more.

Finally, we have taken hempseed out of the feed stores and into the vitamin aisle. We can bring hempseed into the new millennium as a super-food, a nutraceutical ingredient wholesome for all food processors.

Richard Rose