In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a little peek into Irish food history–and a reminder that seaweed is in the thick of it!
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a little peek into Irish food history–and a reminder that seaweed is in the thick of it!
On February 21, Maine Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension agent Sarah Redmond will join forces with Hilary Krapf, founder and creator of the Maine Seaweed Festival, and Barton Seaver, National Geographic fellow, chef and author, in a program on sourcing and preparing seaweed and seafood at the Extension’s office in Falmouth.
The program is part of the Cumberland County Extension’s yearlong series, “From Scratch: Your Maine Kitchen.”
Sure to be a fun, inspiring, and delicious event!
Cost is $40; proceeds benefit the UMaine Extension Nutrition Program in Cumberland County. Register at umaine.edu/cumberland/programs/from-scratch-your-maine-kitchen. For more details, or to request a disability accommodation, contact 207.781.6099, 1.800.287.1471 (in Maine), email@example.com.
This past year was so full, we couldn’t fit it all in one post! And so, more Maine (and beyond) seaweed stories from 2014…
Seaweed in food and drink–recipes, cookbooks, stories…just a sampling
Food & Wine featured a cocktail mix with rosemary and Dulse, or Dilisk as it’s called in Ireland.
Marshall Wharf Brewing Company in Belfast, Maine, crafted Sea Belt, a MacFindlay Scotch Ale brewed with Maine Sugar Kelp grown by Maine Fresh Sea Farms. Sarah Redmond and Hillary Krapf helped facilitate. This story got a lot of press–from NPR to Maine Public Broadcasting Network, to Modern Farmer and the Huffington Post, to the Bangor Daily News and Beer This Week.
In November, Food and Wine featured “5 ways to cook with seaweed” on their blog.
Across the pond, in May The Telegraph advocated for including sea veggies in our embrace of wild foods, with sea veggie recipes, such as potato salad with sea lettuce butter.
Bon Appetit began the year with a mini seaweed primer on how to source and cook with sea veggies, and links to recipes including a yummy pickled veggie dish with nori vinaigrette, from Portland’s Eventide Oyster Co.
And the Huffington Post offered up info on a mix of sea veggies from nori to kombu to dulse, plus recipes (though they mistakenly note that dulse is “also called sea lettuce flakes.” Ahem, not true! Sea lettuce is an entirely different sea veggie).
Cookbooks are one of our favorite things. Ones featuring or including seaweed popped up throughout the year, including Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe, and Seaweed Soul: Recipes for a nourishing life with stories, gorgeous photos and more from our neighbor Larch Hanson at Maine Seaweed Company. From down under came Coastal Chef: The Culinary Art of Seaweed and Algae in the 21st Century, inspired in part through the work, vision, and energy of Australia’s Dr. Pia Winberg, a scientist and passionate seaweed advocate.
Maine Coast Sea Vegetables News!
Some of this year’s news and events happened very close to home–within and beyond the walls here at MCSV. The biggest news, of course, is that after more than forty years in the small town of Franklin, and nearly twenty in our current facility, we are moving to a new home in nearby Hancock (a slightly larger small town), outside of Ellsworth. This represents a sea change for MCSV, of course. The new, purpose-built building, will provide much needed space (we’ve been in pretty cramped quarters for years), with test kitchens for classes and new product development, and more public access for education and sales than we’ve ever had. The excitement about our new home is high, and it’s also bittersweet–we’ll be moving from near the shores of Taunton Bay, and the place where the business was born, and grew slowly but steadily. This move hopefully represents a new phase of life, in the view of MCSV founder and president Shep Erhart.
This past year we said a sad goodbye to one of our favorite products, Sea Chips. On the other hand, we were able to bring back the deliciousness of Smoked Dulse, our dulse cold-smoked on apple and other woods at nearby Sullivan Harbor Farms.
In Part One we looked at seaweed aquaculture projects we’ve been involved with , including the fledgling Sorrento sea farm, collaborative ventures with the nearby Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research and longtime seaweed friend Dr. Susan Brawley, and Maine Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension marine extension agent Sarah Redmond.
Seaweed stories and inspiration
Seaweed nourishes us in many ways, including with inspiration and story. In December, across the transom came a wonderful story and podcast at gastropod.com, featuring kelp as the new “Kale of the sea,” how seaweed contributed to the peopling of the Americas, and Maine’s own Tollef Olson of Ocean Approved. Mother Jones featured another version of this on their blog, highlighting the story of Dr. Kathleen Drew-Baker, a female British scientist whose discovery basically saved Japan’s seaweed industry in the 1940’s.
From Scientific American’s Food Matters blog, another take on kelp as a “new” superfood from the sea, also featuring Bren Smith and Thimble Island Oyster Company, and the work of Dr. Charles Yarish, marine biologist, author, and seaweed farming pioneer at the University of Connecticut. Also including a very cool video about kelp and Smith’s vision and work.
Jumping back across the pond, the BBC Radio aired a feature on Farming Today including seaweed farming and Scottish seaweed company Mara (lots of wonderful recipes on their site, by the way. And we like their tag line, “Ancient food for modern cooks.”).
Speaking of inspiration, artist Josie Iselin released a new book this year called An Ocean Garden: the secret life of seaweed, and it is full of beauty in words and images. (We LOVE this book!) Josie was also a participant in the Maine Seaweed Festival in August! And we learned of the Beneath the Waves film festival, with this year’s festival featuring a film called Kelp Forests of the North East Atlantic.
VisitMaine.com posted a nice piece on the “sea to table” movement, including seaweed.
Portland-based Ocean Approved, home to the first kelp farm in the US, rode the news waves frequently this year. Maine magazine featured a great story about Ocean Approved’s charismatic Tollef Olson, kelp farming pioneer and creative chef, where he “explains his mission to bring ‘the healthiest vegetable you can eat’ to tables and palates around America.”
Seaweed made an appearance in an article on National Geographic.com, How to Farm a Better Fish, including some wise words from Paul Dobbins, the other main force behind Ocean Approved.
And OA was featured in an article in the Portland Press Herald in May, “In Maine, kelp is on the way from Ocean Approved.”
Seaweed frontiers and innovations
The Farm to School movement in the US has steadily gained ground in the past decade or two, and there’s a lot of activity in Maine focused on connecting schools and kids with local, nutritious foods. Only recently has seaweed come on the radar in the world of Farm to School, as another local, healthy, and tasty food that can become part of school food offerings. This fall several MCSV staff members attended a local Farm to School conference, and were impressed and inspired by what they learned and connections made. More to come on this front, we hope!
Seaweed is being explored for use in a wide range of products these days, from biofuels to snack foods to cosmetics. Seaweed can be nourishing to the skin in many ways, and seaweed body care products are on the rise. Boston magazine featured a story on their blog about a Maine dermatologist crafting a skin care line with the healing and protective properties of seaweed, called Ocean Elements.
Hot sauce is an ever-present condiment in our kitchen. Turns out that Captain Mowatt’s in Portland uses seaweed in some of their sauces.
This technically came on the scene before 2014, but was news to us this year. Although it created some controversy, seaweed as part of the fiber in textiles is certainly intriguing.
Further afield, Aqua Dulce farm in Austin, Texas, is growing seaweed on land, using aquaponics.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
~~~Eat some seaweed!~~~
From aquaculture to seaweed beer, resource management to the first-ever Maine Seaweed Festival, it’s been an eventful year for Maine seaweed! Here are some highlights…including some from Beyond Maine…by no means covering everything.
Maine Seaweed Celebration and Education
The first Maine Seaweed Festival–a daylong celebration of Maine seaweed in food, art, play, music, healing and more–rocked the shore at Southern Maine Community College in August. Check out the 2014 Fest re-cap here. See more lovely images and stories from the Seaweed Fest folks on Instagram, and a nice article on the Festival by the Center for a Livable Future.
Maine Seaweed Scene, a meeting for entrepreneurs, chefs, researchers, educators and more to learn from and network with each other. Organized annually by Maine Sea Grant since 2012, the 2014 Scene was also the opener for Seaweed Fest. Find links to the presentations made at the Scene, on topics ranging from sea farming to business and research support to a fledgling algal cluster initiative here.
Sarah Redmond, Hillary Krapf, and Liz Solet in seaweed conversation with host Natalie Springuel on WERU’s Talk of the Towns, June 2014.
Maine Fresh Sea Farms, a new sea farming business hitting the waves in 2014, also helped Mainers discover sea veggies with a class at FARMS in November.
In June, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables’ Kelp Krunch baker Kara and general manager Seraphina brought sea veggies to the Welcome Table, a free community meal that Kara organizes at the Congregational Church in Ellsworth.
The dynamic duo of seaweed love and knowledge, marine extension agent Sarah Redmond and Seaweed Fest organizer Hillary Krapf, were busy spreading the good seaweed word at classes and events throughout the year, such as this one in May. Many, many thanks, ladies!
Seaweed gets noticed
That’s right, it’s the Dutch Weed Burger–with seaweed or algae in every part! Check out our blog post, and articles in Fast Company and The Guardian.
The Guardian also predicts ‘Food Crazes We Will Go Mad For in 2015′–and seaweed is No. 3!
And our local Maine press is paying attention (thank you, Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News, and Working Waterfront, among others), with stories on Portland school kids enjoying seaweed pizza, seaweed getting recognized for more than its role in sushi by awesome marine educator Carol Steingart of Coast Encounters, and the beauties and benefits of seaweed.
Time magazine called kelp a true superfood, along with quinoa and prickly pear cactus.
“Greenberg predicts that in 20 years a brown variety of seaweed called kelp will rank as one of the top 10 most consumed seafoods in America. “If I could buy kelp futures, I would,” he says.”
This article also features Bren Smith and Thimble Island Oyster Company, and the innovative, ecologically responsible approach to growing food in the sea that Smith calls “Aquaculture 2.0.”
The Huffington Post has featured several articles on seaweed this year.
Seaweed farming in Maine
Seaweed farming, or aquaculture, projects have been springing up in Maine for several years, thanks largely to Portland’s Ocean Approved (the first kelp farm in the US), Maine Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension agent Sarah Redmond, the University of Maine’s Susan Brawley and Center for Cooperative Aquaculture, the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, the Maine Aquaculture Association, and many enterprising sea farmers, fishermen and shellfish farmers looking to diversify. Seaweed can be cultivated along with shellfish and even finfish, in systems that more closely mimic natural ecosystems.
From Sarah Redmond, here’s a video tour of what’s been happening with seaweed farming in Maine this past year–exciting stuff!
Maine Coast Sea Vegetables founder and president Shep Erhart has been working with Sarah Redmond and Susan Brawley on various aquaculture projects. Shep has also been partnering with fisherman James West to grow seaweed at a test plot in Sorrento harbor–only a handful of miles from our facility in Franklin. To learn more, check out a presentation that Shep made about the Sorrento farm at the 2014 Seaweed Scene.
Maine Seaweed resource management and planning
In 2013 the Maine Department of Marine Resources officially began the process of developing fishery management plans for seaweed in Maine–a watershed moment, as the Maine Seaweed Council and many business owners, harvesters, and seaweed entrepreneurs have been advocating for statewide management for years. The DMR started with Rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum), and presented an initial Fishery Management plan in January 2014. Later on in 2014, DMR formed a Rockweed Working Group to focus specifically on assessing any areas to be closed to harvesting in consideration of wildlife habitat or ecological systems.
Ecological issues in the Gulf of Maine
The news has not all been good this year. As climate change and ocean acidification become part of our current experience as much as predictions of the future, Maine is grappling with new realities.
One approach is regional as well as local: the Northeast Regional Ocean Planning initiative.
Microplastics in the Gulf of Maine also came on our radar.
To be continued…more seaweed stories in Part Two!
Always on the lookout for new recipes using seaweed, we came across these entries for Laver Butter, Furikake, and Fermented Sea Kraut from Punk Domestics…
Thought we’d share a post from a couple of years back on Latkes with Dulse flakes, in the spirit of the season…
Warm holiday wishes to all.
“Shake the hand that feeds you.”
So begins the Great Food Report, 2015. The report, put out this week by HowGood.com, shows the results of seven years of research and more than 100,000 products rated, based on “goodness” for environment, society, and health. HowGood researches sourcing, production, management, labor practices, ecological effects, integrity of ingredients, and more. The idea is to provide consumers with a simple, accessible way to gauge which products to purchase, and to provide businesses with a tool that both rewards ethical and sustainable practices, and promotes companies based on those qualities.
We were delighted to find that Maine Coast Sea Vegetables is rated one of the top 47 food companies, with 15 of our products given their highest rating! Every day we strive to do business in ways that truly serve our own and our customers’ well-being, our communities, and the planet. It’s wonderful to see HowGood.com‘s effort to connect consumers looking for healthy and ethical products, and businesses such as ours that work hard to produce them. We tip our hat to HowGood and other companies that share this purpose, and we’re grateful for the recognition.
You can check out the MCSV products on the list here. There are many seaweed products mentioned, with ratings from Good to Great, including products from other sea veggie companies such as She Sells Seaweed and Rising Tide Sea Vegetables. Plus many other kinds of food products, information on their rating system, and the people and purpose behind HowGood. Several other Maine companies make the list–kudos to our friends at Grandy Oats!
“If consumers want to change our food system, they should buy quality food they love. Our current system encourages us to think of food only as fuel. In the short run that may mean we can feed ourselves quickly and cheaply, but in the long run our disregard for what we put in our bodies is killing us. If we become mindful of the food we eat, if we stop rewarding the companies who tell us fast and easy is better than good, then the system will have to change with us or be left behind.”
MEADOW CREEK DAIRY, from the Great Food Report
our customers, and all we learn from them
our colleagues and teachers
our families and friends
resiliency and flexibility
sunshine and photosynthesis
the phenomenal ocean that’s so abundant with life
to be able to live and work in a beautiful place, connecting people with seaweed
to work with people we love!
May you find rest, good company, and nourishment in the holiday, from all of us at Maine Coast Sea Vegetables.
Another view on seaweed making its way onto more plates: Food and Wine’s blog spotlights yummy ways to use seaweed from a handful of chefs.
One of the best things about the work we do is learning about all of the creative and beautiful ways that people use seaweeds to nourish body, mind, and spirit. Here’s a recent find, an elegantly simple cocktail infused with Dulse (“Dilisk”) and Rosemary served at Ballymaloe House Restaurant and Hotel, Shanagarry, Midleton, County Cork in Ireland. Inspiring!
~~~Have a great weekend…Eat (or drink) some seaweed!~~~