Hemp seed is used for many purposes

Sowing Seeds: Hemp seed was first spun into fibre 10,000 years ago.
Sowing Seeds: Hemp seed was first spun into fibre 10,000 years ago.

Hemp seeds were in the news this week.

In case you didn’t hear, University of Newcastle researcher Dr Brett Turner discovered that hemp seed powder can be used to remove firefighting contaminants from water.

Given this, the researchers plan to conduct a trial at Williamtown to see if the seeds can stop this ghastly pollution from leaching off the RAAF base.

That’s some brilliant work from our uni.

We thought we’d pay tribute to the humble hemp seed for we feel it’s been unfairly maligned for many years.

Commercial use of hemp, you see, was stymied decades ago because of the stigma of marijuana.

We should point out that the seeds being used at the university won’t grow plants that get you stoned. Some might be disappointed in this, but at least stoners won’t be raiding any trials done at Williamtown. We’re kidding, of course (sort of).

There are loads of books on the subject, including The Great Book of Hemp: The Complete Guide to the Environmental, Commercial and Medicinal Uses of the World's Most Extraordinary Plant.

The book says that hemp is “a variety of the cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for industrial uses”.

“It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fibre 10,000 years ago,” it said.

“It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food and animal feed.”

The book reckons hemp can be considered the world's most versatile plant. 

“Britain and Canada have recently lifted bans on growing industrial hemp. It’s now being used to make things like lip-salve, jeans, salad oil, cheese and fibreboard.”

Last year, Australia lifted a ban on hemp food products that are low in THC – the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.

Previously, politicians had feared hemp consumption would affect roadside drug testing. Plus, the panicky pollies were worried about appearing to be soft on drugs.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand ended up giving its approval to lift the ban, after finding that hemp seeds were safe for human consumption and a good source of vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

A Swinburne University study found it was highly unlikely the consumption of low-THC hemp foods would cause positive drug tests.

So the humble hemp seed was given the all clear. Some reckon it could end up being the next “super food”, becoming as common as soy, chia and flaxseed.

The New Fast Food 

Speaking of plant-based health, a new meal-delivery service called Soulara is now available in Newcastle. 

The company talks up its meals as “a powerful combination of superfoods, legumes, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, giving you everything you need”.

“The subscription-based service is designed for maximum convenience.”

Fast food is changing, people.

Existence and Other Stuff

A marble bust of Greek philosopher Aristotle looking chuffed.

A marble bust of Greek philosopher Aristotle looking chuffed.

Topics was interested to read that philosophy could be scrapped as a study major at the University of Newcastle, along with “a modest staff reduction”.

The uni says philosophy content “will be incorporated into the core courses” of a modernised Bachelor of Arts degree.

We took a philosophy class at the university back in the day. If we recall right, the lecturer’s name was Ralph Robinson.

He taught us about critical thinking, free will, ethics and the nature of existence, time and knowledge – stuff like that.

Basically he taught us how to think. Well, think deeper and wider, anyhow.

Ralph often spoke about “the best available theory”.

This basically meant that most beliefs were pretty much theories that could, one day, be disproved and superseded by more accurate theories.

He was also fond of saying that everyone had their own “internal model of the world”.

That is, everyone has their own way of looking at the world, formed by a collection of beliefs and perceptions that link to each other from their earliest days of existence.

Philosophy expands and opens minds. Society could use a lot more of this, don’t you think? That is, considering the ample supply of narrow-minded attitudes.

  • topics@theherald.com.au