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Green Cuisine

It’s become expectation over aspiration for our foodie favourites to embody sustainability in all that they do. From the war on single-use plastics, to supply chain transparency and packaging compostability, this is more than a food trend – it’s a philosophy.



We’re seeing plenty of options across ingredients, preparation and packaging to take what’s on your plate to new, sustainable heights.

Hemp: This buzzword has grown wings and very much flown into foodie vernacular. Hemp is high in fibre, protein, minerals, and unsaturated fats, and contains the non-psychoactive cannabidiol, CBD. This nutrient dense plant is fast becoming used in everything from milk alternatives and cooking oils, to protein powders and energy bars.

Oat Milk: Plant-based milks are in hot demand, and no nut or grain has been spared from the quest to find a cow-less concoction. But one option does seem to be gaining more traction than most – the humble oat. A high-yield grain, oats are nutritious, cheap to produce and buy, and even grown locally in the South Island. Oat milk is creamy and can be easily homemade by soaking and blending oats with water.

Bio-packaging: Single-use plastics have been shown the door, and in their place we’re being shown a surprising panel of alternatives. Think seaweed, vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, straw, sawdust and even recycled food waste. Bioplastics made a splash when London Marathon runners were sated with golf ball-size pouches made from seaweed and filled with sports drink.


Hemp revolution

The Brothers Green have seen the future and it is sustainable, easily accessible, incredibly nutritious, and inextricably bound up with hemp. So much so that The Brothers have opened a new processing facility in Hurunui District, making hemp cultivation a viable option for farmers keen to start growing plant-based protein.



The facility dries and cleans the seed, and turns it into the raw ingredients of hemp protein powder, hemp flour, dehulled hemp seeds and hemp oil. Head of Development Brad Lake says they are looking to include full traceability, so customers know where the hemp grew, was processed and the products it is going into.

Brad’s favourite from The Brothers Green range is the Hempy Bar – a snack bar you can buy at New World and PAK’nSAVE supermarkets nationwide.

“Containing 17 percent hemp, it is way ahead of any other hemp bar and it demonstrates the possibility of hemp,” Brad says.

The bars come in choc coconut and choc berry. Plant-based, nut-free, no refined sugar, vegan, and gluten-free, they fit well with low carb and keto eating at 30 percent protein, 40 percent fat, no sugar and low carb. Hemp is high in omega 3, fibre, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, appealing to flexitarians reducing animal proteins.

Containing all 20 amino acids, the packaging is all home-compostable.

Agriculturally this crop is spray-free, harvests in less than five months and requires little water, so tie some hemp into your life.


Historic buildings’ revolutionary twist

Two of Christchurch’s oldest, cherished buildings are set to take on a revolutionary twist; home to New Zealand’s first cannabis social enterprise.



Whakamana, the New Zealand Institute of Cannabis Education, Research and Development, will be based in the enchanting Shands Emporium – the city’s oldest commercial wooden building – and also the historic Trinity Church. Restored by the Christchurch Historic Trust, the buildings sit adjacent on the Worcester and Manchester Street corner.

Hemp environmentalist Michael Mayell, founder of Cookie Time, Nutrient Rescue and Drinkable Rivers, has teamed up with veteran cannabis educator Abe Gray, after meeting at the inaugural iHemp Summit in Wellington last year.

Whakamana will incorporate an interactive world-class cannabis museum and education centre, a hemp food café and restaurant, an alcohol-free plant-medicine shot bar, a hemp emporium – and, subject to the outcome of the 2020 cannabis referendum, a cannabis dispensary.

The facilities will be built once a $1 million PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign is completed. Social entrepreneur Michael Mayell is excited by the venture. “This will be a facility that Christchurch will be proud of, an avant-garde attraction for locals and tourists alike – cannabis tourism is on the rise,” he says.

Advocating a shift from cows to cannabis for Drinkable Rivers, Michael’s mission is to enable every Kiwi to eat three tablespoons of hemp seeds daily for health, the environment and the economy. “Hemp – low THC cannabis – really matters for New Zealand.”

Abe Gray, Botanist and Science Communicator with 20 years’ cannabis industry experience, established Dunedin’s Whakamana Cannabis Museum in 2013. He says he is confident of the venture’s success. “The demand for cannabis education experiences is exploding globally as this industry expands exponentially and New Zealand is no exception,” he says.

“Cannabis is widely misunderstood in New Zealand. People forget that it has been used in some cultures for thousands of years. It used to be the number one industrial crop globally, and was legal in this country less than a hundred years ago.”

Whakamana will also establish a public Cannabis Education Centre of Excellence, with freely available educational, fun experiences about cannabis ‘plant power’ and pioneering uses for cannabis as a viable, sustainable food and fibre source. The medical profession will have access to cutting-edge research and accredited courses for knowledge advancement in medicinal cannabis use.

Michael and Abe have begun leasing Shand’s for five months as a base for their PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign, holding information and cannabis educational evenings with a different focus each night. This is to raise $1 million or more to transform Trinity Church into the cannabis educational experience.

Once funds have been raised, the Trinity building reinstatement for the café, shot bar and emporium can then open.

Whakamana’s social purpose is to improve lives and restore the planet through plant power – to be the trusted source of cannabis education, research and development.

Michael and Abe express immense gratitude to the trustees of the Christchurch Historic Trust for their wonderful job restoring the landmarks, and say their history will be acknowledged, with a new life as an institute dedicated to earth’s most versatile vegetable – a befitting next chapter for these 150-year-old icons.

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