Why Sterilize Hemp Seeds
In a nutshell (if you can excuse the pun) it's because we have to. Back in the late 1930s when this whole anti-hemp insanity began in the US, the only industry that successfully lobbied the US Congress to preserve the legality of one part of the hemp plant was the bird seed merchants. You see, they told Congress that if they were forced to remove hemp seed from the bird feed mixes, the song birds would cease to sing. Well, this was enough for Congress to change the new "Marijuana tax act" to not include hemp seeds.
So for years, bird seed still contained viable hemp seed, allowing the birds to be happy with the mix and continue singing. Well, in the 1960s, hemp became notable more for its recreational smoking of the leaves and flowers of the plant and the source of these strains were most notably the very same hemp seeds that had passed through the radar of the US Congress in the 1930s. Well they figured they better do something about it and quick, thus sterilization of all hemp seeds began.
It is a really good thing that those bird seed companies successfully lobbied Congress to preserve their right to add hemp seed to their bird food mixes. If they hadn't I suspect that hemp would have been lost to the Western countries under US foreign policy and be all but forgotten. Fortunately that didn't happen and the seed we were using when we first began making and selling hemp seeds and hemp seed food was earmarked for bird seed.
Because we had this supply of hempseeds in the country already, though they were sterilized, and are still to this day, we were able to begin educating people using hemp seed intended to be fed to birds. Fortunately we no longer need to do this since 1998 when hemp was legalized to grow under license here in Canada. Now we can supply you with certified organic hemp seed products intended for human, or bird consumption.
How much damage does sterilizing hemp seed do?
The sterilization process does minimal damage to the whole seed. We use an infrared sterilization process (heat) and essentially the damage results in minute cracks in the hull of the seed causing a shorter shelf life of months rather than years for the whole hemp seed. The proteins are not affected, the minerals are not affected, the vitamins are slightly affected but hemp seeds are not a valuable source of vitamins, which can also be said for any seed or nut. The oils are affected by the heat, retaining the fact that the sterilized hemp seed an excellent source of protein. Though we would love to be able to sell unsterilized live seed, we are able to produce ALL of our other products from live seed, it is just the whole seed we must sterilize.
Essentially all this does is require someone who is interested in getting the whole goodness of the hemp seed to purchase more than one product. In order to get the fibre and protein, both of which are not damaged by the heat used to sterilize the seed, you must eat the whole seed. In order to get the oils from the hemp seed, which are in lower levels in the sterilized seed, you now have to eat the packaged hemp oil that we supply. Our hemp oil is made from unsterilized seeds and therefore completes what you would require for a "whole" seed.
We agree that it would be better to get the whole package from eating the seeds but we have eaten the seeds right from the hemp plant and they are somewhat more tasty if they are lightly roasted anyway. So as long as the seeds retain their freshness and are kept sealed away from light and air, like in a freezer in a jar, they will continue to taste good and also be excellent for you with their high protein, mineral and fibre content.
There is also hulled hemp seed, which is not sterilized per say, but has the hulls removed. We agree that this product is an excellent source of protein but it is lacking one of the best qualities of the hemp seed, the hull. In an age where we eat very little dirt in our diet (as opposed to times long past) we are severely lacking in indigestible fibre. Hemp seed hulls are an excellent source of indigestible fibre and thus scrape clean the intestinal tract, much like psyllium husks do. The hulls of the hempseed are an excellent source of fibre and should be eaten daily.