A Krunch-y Halloween

Kelp Krunch BarsLooking for a unique, sweet but healthy treat to give out at Halloween? Two customers just gave us the idea to hand out Kelp Krunch™ bars–why didn’t we think of that?! They are crunchy, sweet, a little salty, and packed with nutrition but no refined sugars (sweetened with brown rice syrup and maple syrup), and come in Original Sesame and Sesame Ginger flavors.

This could be an ideal role for the 2 lb. bulk pack of Krunch–bars individually wrapped in just clear cellophane (not the full retail wrapper). Same delicious and nutritious bars, just in a different wrapper–and also the most economical option for Krunch. And it just so happens that the bulk packs are on sale right now!

Happy Halloween everyone!! Eat some seaweed :)

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Microplastics in the Gulf of Maine

Ok, this is not really directly about seaweed. But it is about the health of the Gulf of Maine and the creatures that live in it (and by extension, the creatures that eat from the Gulf–including us humans).

Maybe you’re aware of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and even of microplastics in the oceans. This recent article from The Working Waterfront brings the issue into focus in our backyard.

If, like most of us at MCSV, you wear synthetic fleece (and wash it now and then), or use personal care products with exfoliating microbeads, learn more about some of the unintended consequences of these products…

from: http://www.workingwaterfront.com/articles/Microplastics-in-Maine-waters–2014are-they-in-our-food/16140/

 

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Seaweed like chocolate?

health benefits dark chocolateLast winter this story from NPR’s The Salt blog came on our radar, about how gut bacteria may play a role in the health benefits of dark chocolate. Many of us here at Maine Coast Sea Vegetables love dark chocolate, so that was reason enough to read. But this story also piqued our interest because it raised the question:  seaweed shares properties with chocolate–could seaweed have similar effects on gut bacteria?

“How is seaweed similar to chocolate?” you might be asking. Both contain substantial amounts of polyphenols–a broad class of compounds that act as antioxidants–as well as dietary fiber that is not digested, but can feed the “good” gut microbes in the large intestine, producing short-chain fatty acids and other beneficial compounds.

Seaweed and chocolate–perhaps the next super-super food! Have you ever combined seaweed and chocolate? If so, please tell us about it and we’ll send you a seaweed treat.

If you want to geek out more on the potential benefits of seaweed on gut health, here are a few articles we’ve come across…

low tide rocks_Redmond

Photo: Sarah Redmond

“Prebiotics from Marine Macroalgae for Human and Animal Health Applications”

“In vitro fermentation and prebiotic potential of novel low molecular weight polysaccharides derived from agar and alginate seaweeds”

“Functional Foods from the Sea”

 

 

 

 

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New sea veggie offerings

Kelp Krunch BarsLove Kelp Krunch bars? If you like the economy of the 1# bulk pack, but want to easily take them hiking, to work or school, or wherever, check out the 2# BULK PACK of bars individually wrapped just in clear cellophane. Same yummy bars, different packaging.

 

Sea Lettuce is notFresh Sea Lettuce as well known as some other sea veggies, but as one of the “green” seaweeds, it adds more diversity to sea veggie nutrition and benefits. We now have Sea Lettuce powder on our website, available by the pound. Some people like to make their own blend of powders and either put this in capsules, or add to smoothies, sprinkle on foods, etc., and Sea Lettuce is a great addition to a blend. Just as with land vegetables, eating a diversity of sea veggies gives a broader range of nutrients.

We are offering a new blend of kelps and rockweed called IKB (Icelandic Kelp Blend™), sourced from the clean, cold waters of Iceland. As a blend, IKB offers a wide range of nutrients and bioactive compounds, and this product contains a guaranteed range of iodine. More and more people are looking to sea veggies for their iodine content (among their many wonderful gifts), and IKB is a new way to provide iodine in our diets. IKB is available in powder form, by the pound.

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We’re back!! Late summer highlights and September musings…

Hard to believe it’s September already, but we’re glad to be back in the swing of things. We can feel fall in the air here in downeast Maine, and the light is changing, especially on a clear, bright day like we are having today.

Fresh Dulse

Dulse (Palmaria palmata)

The seaweed harvests continue, especially for dulse and laver, timed with the lower tides of the month around the new and full moons.

Speaking of dulse, note that we have smoked dulse back!! Very exciting. Time for more grilled cheese sandwiches with smoked dulse, and add some avocado for a special treat! Regular dulse works well for this too–both kinds can be pan-fried lightly ’til crisp, then simply added to grilled cheese.

At the end of August we took part in the first-ever Maine Seaweed Festival at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland–a wonderful day on the waterfront devoted to all things seaweed. More about the Fest soon. In the meantime, here’s a nice article from Maine Today on the Festival with lots of great photos…

 

 

 

 

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Annual August Shutdown is now…

It’s that time again, when Maine Coast Sea Vegetables shuts down for the month of August to allow the harvests to come in, take care of things in our building that can’t be done when we’re open, and take a little break. The website, www.seaveg.com, is available for information but the webstore and offices will be closed until Tuesday September 2nd.

This tradition began in the days when it was only a few people at MCSV taking orders, packing and shipping orders, and harvesting the sea veggies, with the harvest peaking in mid- to late summer. There simply wasn’t enough time to do it all with just a few people.

These days there are nearly twenty of us working year-round at MCSV, plus many harvesters fanning out along the Gulf of Maine coast, and the harvest stretches from April to October. Soon, we hope, with the coming of farmed seaweed from our coastal waters, the harvest will continue to evolve and expand. We’ve been working hard on seaweed aquaculture projects with Sarah Redmond of Maine Sea Grant, Susan Brawley at the University of Maine and the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, Ocean Approved in southern Maine, shellfish farmers and fishermen looking to diversify into seaweed growing, and many others.

So the August shutdown’s purpose has morphed a bit over time, but it’s a tradition that’s embedded in who we are as a business and how we sustain ourselves and our practices for the long haul.

THANK YOU to all of our customers, colleagues, friends, and supporters who’ve made this another good year to live where we live and do the work we do. We wish you a lovely August, wherever you are!

As the song goes, “See You in September…”

~~~The Maine Coast Team~~~

This is us, in the chilly early spring of 2014!

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Shep Erhart talk on harvesting and growing seaweed, Friday August 1st

 

Aerial view of Taunton Bay, photo by John Sowles, Friends of Taunton Bay

Friends of Taunton Bay, a stewardship and educational organization for Taunton Bay in downeast Maine, is hosting a talk by MCSV’s Shep Erhart tomorrow, August 1st at 7 pm, at the Taunton Bay Education Center in Sullivan. MCSV is located near the shores of Taunton Bay.

Shep’s talk is titled, “Cultivating Seaweeds Sustainably on Rocks and Ropes.”

Light refreshments will be served. Click here for more information on this program and the series of Friday evening talks.

 

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Sad to see the Sea Chips go…

Sea ChipsIt’s the end of an era here at Maine Coast Sea Vegetables. We are now offering the last batch of our popular Sea Chips®, and will no longer sell them after we return in September from our annual August shutdown.

Sea Chips are one of the few products that we don’t make entirely ourselves–we’ve been working with a certified organic corn chip producer for many years who uses our seasoning mix to make a delicious snack that was the first (to our knowledge) sea veggie chip.

About a year ago, our chip maker went through a series of changes and upgrades, including making their entire facility and processes Kosher-certified in addition to organic. This presented a problem, as our sea veggies are not certified Kosher. For the past year, we’ve investigated every avenue we could think of to keep the Chips going–from getting our products certified Kosher to searching for another chip producer. Unfortunately, Kosher certification is not workable, and we have not found another chip producer that could work with our production scale, and make a certified organic chip.

MCSV product line sell sheet OLD

“Wild Crafted Food from the Gulf of Maine” An old Maine Coast flyer showing an early version of the product line, including Sea Chips…

Sea Chips debuted in the late 1980s, after many rounds of experimentation with chip shape, size, and flavors, finally settling on the familiar “triangle” chip and a seasoning blend of dulse, kelp, onion, and garlic. With no added salt, the chips got their salty taste from the kelp and dulse. Baked before frying to seal out oil, they were crunchy without being greasy.

“Saucy” Sea Chips followed after the original version, combining the spicy and bold flavors of miso, cayenne, and ginger with the original mix. Maine Coast was again ahead of its time, introducing a spicy snack chip. In-house at MCSV, Saucy Chips with extra cayenne became a favorite snack. Long-time MCSV production team member Mickey Scott’s favorite way to eat them was crumbled on salads, or dipped in blue cheese dressing.

Seraphina Erhart, daughter of MCSV’s founders and lifelong sea veggie eater, remembers stashing “Saucy” Sea Chips under her bed in college and bartering the popular snack for other goodies! Early MCSV harvester and sea veggie marketer and promoter Carl Karush recalls that the first ideas for a seaweed snack chip involved Maine potatoes and Maine sea veggies, then evolved to a corn rather than potato chip. One of the early package designs was graced by a drawing made by MCSV’s Ingredients Manager Craig Hoke and others.

Will Sea Chips ever return? That’s hard to say. Situations and possibilities may change and we’re not giving up completely. In the mean time, we’ve been talking about some other product offerings, including a seasoning mix that could be sprinkled on corn or other kinds of chips–kind of a DIY Sea Chip.

So enjoy them while you can, and join us in saying a fond farewell (for now at least) to one of our favorite sea veggie delivery systems.

Sea ChipsWould you try a chip seasoning mix to make your own ‘sea chips’?

What flavors would you want to try?

How about a popcorn snack with sea veggie seasoning?

Thank you to all Sea Chips lovers over the years for making this such a popular product!!

 

 

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Midsummer in Maine

That means swimming, cookouts, visits with family and friends…and seaweed harvesting for most species is in full swing.

It also means that our organic inspection process for the year is just wrapping up. This is several weeks of intensive work, including site visits, meetings, and reviewing documentation and plans.

Looking ahead to summer’s second half, don’t forget the first-ever Maine Seaweed Festival on Saturday August 30th at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland! There you’ll find seaweed as art and food, and have a chance to learn about seaweed harvesting, aquaculture, businesses, cooking, healing, and much more. Fun, inspiration, and good food for the whole family!

 

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The Welcome Table

photo   A couple of weeks ago we put up a short post about The Welcome Table, a free community meal in nearby Ellsworth, featuring sea vegetables in the offerings on June 18th.

Kara Ibarguen, who bakes our Kelp Krunch bars, coordinates The Welcome Table, and often brings Krunch bars to share there. This meal was the first to feature sea veggies, including New Potato Salad with dulse flakes, deviled eggs with Dulse with Garlic Sea Seasoning, and hummus with a variety of sea veggies sprinkled on top. Sea Seasonings shakers were also on hand for adding to foods. See our website for the New Potato Salad recipe (slightly modified for the meal–leaving out the pickles, pickle juice, and eggs).

Kara in the Krunch kitchen at Maine Coast

Kara in the Krunch kitchen at Maine Coast

Seraphina Erhart, Maine Coast general manager, daughter of the company’s founders, and lifelong sea veggie eater, did a sea veggie demo, provided samples of dulse flakes with the New Potato Salad recipe, and chatted with guests and volunteers about sea veggies. According to Seraphina, one woman said, ‘I wasn’t too sure about this, but that was some good potato salad!’ For most guests, eating sea veggies was an entirely new experience, though some were familiar with using seaweeds for other things–from garden amendment to lobster bake packing material. One woman said her family used to harvest rockweed.

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Deviled eggs with Dulse with Garlic were a hit!

The deviled eggs with Dulse with Garlic were a huge hit–getting even better reception than regular deviled eggs.

Seraphina says that with the small amount of promotion that Maine Coast Sea Vegetables does, focusing on local foods and local communities, and raising local awareness of sea veggies, are high priorities. So The Welcome Table was a perfect fit. Plus, wanting to support a “great community service.”

Seraphina and the sea veggie spread

Seraphina and the sea veggie spread

Kara  plans to keep using sea veggies in cooking for the weekly meal now, in soups, casseroles, spreads, etc. And Sea Seasonings will stay on hand to join the condiments on tables.

A “Community Transformation” grant from Healthy Acadia, in connection with the Hancock Community Agency helped make it possible to bring sea veggies to The Welcome Table. The grant’s focus is to help connect local people and communities with locally sourced, nutritious foods. Many volunteers also help make the meal possible, including a large pool from Maine People’s Alliance.

About forty meals were served on June 18th, and the numbers fluctuate week to week. The first meal was served on May 16, 2012, and they’ve been served every Wednesday since. The Welcome Table serves every Wednesday at the First Congregational Church in Ellsworth, from 3-6 pm.

Thank you to Kara and Seraphina for spreading the word about sea veggies, and helping local people enjoy delicious, nutritious foods!

 

 

 

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