Seaweed in the News

We’re back!

And there’s been lots of seaweed activity in the news. Here are a few highlights.

A love note to Seaweed…

Monterey (CA) County Weekly featured a story about Monterey Bay Seaweeds, a new company growing sea vegetables in ocean water in tanks on land. The company was started by Dr. Michael Graham, a scientist, researcher, educator, and long-time seaweed lover, and his family. They sell their fresh seaweed, still alive in sterilized seawater, to area and regional chefs. The article also lays out what’s so good about seaweed, nutritionally and in the kitchen.

A linked story with a favorite recipe from the Graham family is here.

Homegrown Seaweed

Alaria esculentaOn the other side of the country, Pensacola (FL) New Journal ran “Seaweed…and eat it!,” a take on the kelp (seaweed)-is-the-new-kale phenomenon. The article talks about kelp, and wakame, and sourcing from Asian markets. Similar seaweeds also come from American waters, such as our Kelp (“Wild Atlantic Kombu”) and Alaria (“Wild Atlantic Wakame”). Like all of our products, except Sushi Nori, our Kelp and Alaria (pictured at right) come from the North Atlantic–the northern Gulf of Maine, actually.

Summer, Salads, Seaweed

And finally, as we head into the first full weekend of summer, a short piece, long on recipes for summer salads using fresh produce as it comes into season. And, of course, seaweed. ;) Scroll down for the tuna and seaweed recipe, which calls only for “dried seaweed.” What sea veggie variety complements fresh tuna, sesame, daikon radish, cucumber, and miso? We’d have to go with Alaria as first choice–with its texture a bit more delicate than Kelp, but still with a bite, and its fresh, slightly sweet flavor.

That’s all for now. Until next time, Eat your Sea Veggies!

 

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“Fluency of Ocean”

from worldoceansday.org

We’ve been celebrating World Oceans Day this week by following this year’s theme of “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet,” focused on the problems of plastic pollution. We’ve also touched on ocean acidification, the cousin to climate change that’s having devastating effects (think clam shells dissolving because the waters are too acidic) in marine environments including the Gulf of Maine, and how seaweeds can help moderate acidity levels by absorbing CO2.

We’ll finish the week by remembering the beauty of the oceans, and of seaweeds. The United Nations held its third annual World Oceans Day photo contest, and just released the winners–see them here.

Closer to home, and to the seaweeds we love and depend on, here are some of our favorite seaweed images collected over the years. (Many thanks to Sarah Redmond, seaweed lover, grower, educator, and entrepreneur extraordinaire for many of these photos!)

low tide rocks_Redmondyoung alaria bladeAlaria drying.MCSVfucus and ascophyllum_Redmond fucus and dulse_Redmond sea moss ledge_Redmond ulva tidepool_Redmond

 

 

We tend to protect and nurture what we love, and what we truly see and know. Many people feel a strong connection to the ocean, maybe because they grew up visiting the shore with family and friends, maybe because the smell of salt air got into their veins and never left. Let’s remember the beauties of the ocean, and of the seaweeds at home there, as we also look, even though it’s difficult, at the health of mother ocean today. And then let’s see what we can do to help. For those who’ve come before us, for our families and communities and the oceans that sustain us and all life, and for those who’ll come after us.

From the poem “Beannacht” by John O’Donoghue:

…May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

 

Next week Seaweed in the News will return.

Until then, Eat Your Sea Vegetables!

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How Seaweeds Help

In celebration of World Oceans Day (yesterday, June 8), we’ve been thinking about the health of the oceans, and ways that seaweeds affect their ocean home. Seaweeds don’t remove plastics from the sea, or lessen the dangers of abandoned fishing nets for marine life. But they do photosynthesize, and in that process, pull carbon dioxide from the ocean and store it in their bodies. Since rising CO2 levels in the oceans are causing warming of ocean waters, and increases in the ocean’s acidity, lessening oceanic CO2 is a very good thing.

The Gulf of Maine is warming and acidifying more quickly than most other water bodies in the world, according to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. That’s a dubious distinction, of course. But there’s a connection to Maine seaweed–one of the recommendations of the Maine Ocean Acidification Commission’s January 2015 report is to grow and harvest seaweed:

Recommendations
4.1. Preserve, enhance and manage a sustainable harvest of kelp, rockweed and native algae and preserve and enhance eelgrass beds.

…Acquisition of CO2 by marine macrophytes (sea grass, seaweeds) represents an important sink for anthropogenic CO2 emissions…Growing and harvesting macroalgae could play a considerable role in carbon sequestration…

Yes, some of the carbon dioxide that seaweeds absorb will get released again when the seaweed dies and decomposes. But there’s still a period of time where the CO2 is bound in the seaweed and not affecting the ocean’s temperature or acidity. And when seaweed is harvested and used–for food, for medicine, for agriculture and animal health–the CO2 doesn’t return to the sea.

So keep enjoying your Maine seaweed! When you do, you’re helping yourself to a beneficial and beautiful food, and you’re also helping the Gulf of Maine and all of the creatures that depend on it. Not to mention the coastal communities that are sustained by the Gulf and the creatures to whom it’s home.

IMG_2479

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World Oceans Day

(This week we’ll celebrate World Oceans Day with a series of blog posts about ocean health, and seaweeds.)

A couple of months ago, I got to spend a weekend at an old Coast Guard station on the eastern edge of Cape Cod, not far from the National Seashore. Each morning on my beach walk, I picked up trash in the wrack line and scattered on the beach–much of it plastic in the form of bottles, balloons, caps, ribbons, bags, and assorted brightly colored bits. It got me thinking that plastic pieces are the new version of sea glass–a coveted prize for many beachgoers–but so much more harmful. Each day, with a tide cycle bringing in more refuse from the sea, I lugged a shopping bag’s worth of trash off the beach. And keep in mind, this was in mid-April, long before tourist season gets going, when very few people visit those beaches.

Later in April I took part in a roadside cleanup in the small Maine coastal town where I live. I set out with dozens of other volunteers, combing the road shoulders for beer bottles, soda cans, bags, food containers, cigarette butts. Much of what we picked up was plastic. The roadside cleanup keeps our town looking nicer, and being part of it made me feel that I was doing a little bit of good citizenry. But having just seen all of the trash on the Cape Cod beach also made me realize that the roadside trash can also end up in the ocean, even in my little town. Whenever I collect seaweed for my garden at our town dock, I also take a few minutes to pick up trash on that beach. Usually there’s not much there, but there’s always some–a plastic bottle, what’s left of a styrofoam cup, caps, lobster bands. Any amount of plastic is too much in the ocean.

Image AltThis year’s theme for World Oceans Day–today, June 8–is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet,” and focuses on preventing plastic pollution in our seas. Most of us have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of human-made debris in the middle of the North Pacific ocean. Much of what collects there is plastic, and much of that plastic is in the form of small to tiny pieces called microplastics. According to National Geographic’s online encyclopedia entry, about 80% of the debris comes from land-based activities, in North America and Asia. The other 20% comes from at-sea sources, from fishing and recreational boating to lost shipping containers. The trash collects there because it gets corralled by ocean currents, and does not biodegrade–plastic doesn’t break down, it just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. Scientists also observe that debris doesn’t just collect on the surface, but some sinks partway in the water, and some settles on the bottom.

Closer to home, one of the program areas of the Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI) in Blue Hill, Maine, is plastics and microplastics and the risks they pose to humans and marine life, as well as ecological health of the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere. According to the MERI website, an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic now pollute the world’s oceans.

Once in the ocean, plastics can be mistaken for food and eaten by marine life, from birds to turtles. And microplastics–largely invisible to the naked eye–are being found in many seafoods that are eaten by humans as well as part of the marine food chain. Mussels, for example, filter the water around them to sift out food particles, and microplastics can get absorbed in the same way. Luckily for seaweed lovers, since seaweeds don’t filter feed or even have a digestive system, microplastics are likely not a threat to our Dulse, Alaria, and Kelp.

Plastic can make things easier, more convenient, and in some cases, helps us stay safer (think of the plastic embedded in the windshield of your car, which would make the glass shatter into tiny pieces rather than big, pointy shards if it breaks). Plastics seem to be here to stay, literally, because they don’t break down. But they don’t have to end up in our oceans–that is something we can prevent. And we need to remember that plastics haven’t always been around, they were created to use available resources and fill needs (and arguably, to make money). Can’t we now use our creativity and resourcefulness to make and use healthier and more ecologically sound alternatives, and adapt by altering our habits?

Preserve ProductsFirst, we can reduce the use of plastics to situations where it really is the best material for the purpose. Buy and use products made from wood, metal, glass, fibers, and other durable, biodegradable, and/or renewable resources when possible. (Did you know that hemp fiber is mildew-resistant and makes an excellent shower curtain? The list is endless.) Ditch plastic shopping bags and use canvas bags or those made with…recycled plastic. Second, we can reuse plastic containers and bags and such, rather than throwing them away. Third, we can recycle plastics as much as possible, so they get a second life in another form. The company Preserve makes a range of products from recycled plastics, from razor handles to dinnerware, and accepts #5 plastics at dropoff locations and by mail in its Gimme 5 program. Fourth, we can remove plastics from the shore and the landscape when we find it.

We need the oceans–not least for the beautiful, nutritious, tasty, and healing seaweeds that grow there–and the oceans need us. Let’s do our part.

~Liz Solet, MCSV team member

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Seaweed in the News

Usually we talk about the wonders of seaweed as food, medicine, and for baths and body care. But as summer approaches and lobster and clam bake season nears here in coastal Maine, we’re reminded that seaweed–usually Rockweed and/or Bladderwrack–are used to steam lobsters, clams, corn in the traditional “bake,” where a hole is dug on the beach, lined with rocks, heated by fire, and all the goodies added. The whole thing is covered with seaweed to steam away. The seaweed imparts a complex briny taste, mixed with the smoky from the fire, that infuses into the foods and creates flavors you can’t get anywhere else.

Don’t forget the salt and Seaweed

Maine-sea-salt-addon

Photo: getmainelobster.com

Turns out a company in Maine includes a little bit of seaweed, along with Maine sea salt, to cook with their packs of lobster and lobster tails.

Not the same as that beach-side lobster bake, but an infusion of seaweed flavor nonetheless.

 

Bien: ‘Tasting the Sea’

Chef David Tu Phu recently hosted a pop-up dinner called “Bien” (ocean in Vietnamese), showcasing local, sustainable ingredients from the California coast, many oceanic.

The dishes include Sea Lettuce in an avocado salad called Gỏi Trái Bơ, and Kombu consomme in a hot and sour soup filled with umami, Rau Câu, all paired with beers.

“Seaweed is by far the most local and sustainable food there is in California. It’s so plentiful, doesn’t require farming or irrigation and it tastes great.”

David Tu Phu

All of this creative seaside cookery, and recognition of seaweed’s sustainability and versatility, is taking place in California and making use of the abundant coastal food resources there. Similar things are happening here in Maine, too, where we have thousands of miles of coastline, a thriving seaweed industry (both wild harvest and aquaculture), and a robust and growing farm-to-table movement.

Portland restaurant Vinland uses 100% locally sourced ingredients from land and sea in their creative offerings (currently on the menu: Jonah Crab with Nori, and Roasted Kombu Panna Cotta).

tumblr_mn8b8sLRb61rkz363o1_1280.jpg

photo: mainefreshseafarms.com

Many other restaurants and creative chefs are adding seaweeds to their palettes (and palates). Our friends at Maine Fresh Sea Farms have recently highlighted on their blog some local chefs and restaurants working with their fresh Sugar Kelp and other seaweeds including Eventide Oyster Co. Fore Street, and Scales in Portland, and Tao Yuan Restaurant in Brunswick (check out their gorgeous local seaweed salad!).

“Nondenominational Noodle Joint”

Finally, the New York Times recently featured The Honey Paw in Portland in its Travel section, highlighting the restaurant’s melding of Asian, French, and New England influences and creation of “umami heaven.” They make their own noodles, including fermented rice varieties.

The Honey Paw

Don’t know about you, but all of this talk about food is making us hungry! Until next time, Eat Your Sea Vegetables!

 

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Seaweed in the News

This week, snapshots from seaweed on plates, menus, and snack bags around the world…

Seaweed: it’s what’s for Dinner

Chile has some 4,700 kilometers of coastline, and 750 species of seaweed. Rodolfo Guzman, chef at one of the country’s top restaurants, Borago, is making use of seaweeds along with many other delicacies that can be found growing wild.

Traditional + New

And in Hawaii, seaweed also has a long history of traditional use. It’s also appearing on menus and in kitchens with new flair, as showcased as part of the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival.

“…there are more than 500 species of limu, or seaweed, in Hawaii, in fact it’s one of the island’s oldest culinary ingredients.”

Better than Potato?

Alaria drying.MCSV

Golden Alaria fronds

Crispy friend seaweed chips are taking Thailand by storm. We’re always a bit wary when ingredients are listed only as “seaweed” (that could mean SO many things), but it’s no secret that seaweeds can be roasted into salty, crispy, tasty chips.

We’ve made chips with Alaria and Kelp, and lightly toasted or roasted Dulse also comes out great. If you’re making them at home, either cook on the stove top or in the oven (300 degrees), dry or with a little oil. Seaweed chips will burn quickly (especially the thinner kinds like Dulse) so watch carefully. In just 3-4 minutes, they’ll turn color slightly and get nice and crisp.

 

That’s all for now…until next time, Eat Your Sea Vegetables!

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Seaweed in the News

Maybe it’s spring in the air. But this week the stories are all about food, creative projects, and recipes.

“The Dillisk Project”

Katie Sanderson

photo: The Evening Echo

Young chef Katie Sanderson was featured in “Food Innovator Goes Back to her Cork Roots,” and talks about one of her “heart projects”: The Dillisk Project, a seaweed-themed pop-up restaurant of sorts in a boatshed in Connemara, in the west of Ireland. (Sanderson was born in Hong Kong, but has spent summers in Ireland and is now based in Dublin.) The little restaurant featured all locally sourced foods, beautifully prepared.

“Dillisk was everything I wanted in a project. It was about bringing people to one of the most beautiful places in Ireland and being really connected to the land and to the sea and to the farms. We knew the names of every single person that we got our ingredients from….Each day we would be on the shore at whatever time low tide was and we would be picking seaweed. That connection to the land, to people and to the place was really special.”

-Katie Sanderson

Seaweed for Paleo

The nutritional, and even medicinal, benefits of sea veggies are well known. A recent article on thepaleodiet.com focused on what sea veggies offer for Paleo eaters, such as antioxidants, abundant iodine and minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties.

 

 

Seaweed Salmon Seasoning

And finally here’s a recipe for “Shony Salmon Rub,” coming from Mara Seaweed across the pond. Their Shony is a blend of seaweeds, and here it’s combined with basil and parsley, garlic and lemon to marinate the salmon.

Sea Seasonings - Triple Blend Flakes ShakerOur Triple Blend Flakes also work well in marinades, sauces, salads, and sprinkled on all sorts of foods. A blend of reddish-purple Dulse, deep purple-brown Laver, and spring-green Sea Lettuce, Triple Blend adds a rainbow of colors as well as taste and nutrition.

 

That’s all for now…until next time, Eat your Sea Vegetables!

 

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Seaweed in the News

We looked a bit further back today than just the past week, and re-discovered a couple of stories that are too good not to share.

Seaweed helps save an Island

Hakai magazine had a short piece on the nourishment of seaweed, a local seaweed festival on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands off the coasts of Britain and France, and how history helped save the people of the island during Nazi occupation in World War II: Nourished by the Sea.

It is comforting to know that the sea sustained my ancestors through that dark and hungry time. Among the stalls, with everyone drawn together by one of the ocean’s most versatile harvests, I realize that the sea sustains something else we could easily lose: our culture.

‘Knights in Green Armor’

kelp line may 2013 showing many stipesBack in January National Geographic’s The Plate delved into seaweed farming in Maine, and potential benefits for the Gulf of Maine’s rapidly warming (and acidifying) waters. The article highlights the work of scientist Susie Arnold of the Island Institute, and kelp farmer Paul Dobbins of Ocean Approved, to measure CO2 levels and changes in pH in areas where kelp is being grown. And suggests that kelp farmers are coming to the rescue, both mitigating ocean acidification and providing food.

Seaweed, or kelp, is a robust crop that requires zero fresh water, arable land, pesticides or fertilizers. When taken from the ocean for harvest, kelp actually removes carbon dioxide, or CO2, acting as a carbon sink.

You know you’ve arrived when…

And on a more recent note, seaweed makes it to the Hallmark Channel! Who woulda thunk…

Dan Kohler's Seaweed Salad Recipe Chef Dan Kohler shares a recipe for Seaweed Salad, calling for “dried seaweed (any kind, or a mix).” Well, we have some suggestions for such a salad–Alaria is delightful when soaked or marinated or blanched, and same goes for Kelp, especially the thinner fronds. You can also mix in Dulse (or Smoked Dulse…yum), Sea Lettuce, or the multi-colored Triple Blend flakes, for beauty and taste.

 

That’s all for now…until next time, Eat Your Sea Vegetables!

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Seaweed in the News

Recipes and ground-breaking in the news this week…

Pirate Brownies!

From the lovely and talented mother-daughter duo of Carly and Claire Weinberg at Dulse and Rugosa, located off the coast of Maine–“Seaweed brownies, moist, delicious, and nutritious.” (They make skincare products with seaweeds and herbs–truly a treat for body and soul. Try the shampoo bar!)

“Our dulse rich  brownies are also known as “Pirate Brownie” because the dulse is soaked in dark rum adding a unique flavor to the mix.”

YUM!

Growing Maine Algae

What are algae, you may ask, and what do they have to do with seaweed or sea vegetables? In short, seaweeds are marine algae–a kind of organism that’s similar in some ways to plants, but also very different. Algae make their own food by photosynthesis the way plants do, and live in freshwater, on land, as well as in the ocean. All seaweeds are algae, but not all algae are seaweeds.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, down the coast at Boothbay Harbor, is undertaking an ambitious project: “Bigelow to break ground on algae ‘greenhouse.'”

The Marine Algal Research and Innovation Accelerator has received support from the Maine Technology Institute, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Department of Agriculture. The project’s goal is to “find commercial applications for marine algae use.”

“My hope is that the greenhouse will serve as a flywheel that drives innovation. It will accelerate the process of taking ideas for natural products created using micro and macro algae and turning them into concepts,” added Lomas. “The greenhouse will allow us to help other entrepreneurs regardless of where they might be in the process.”

Mike Lomas, Director of the National Center for Marine Algae at Bigelow

Make it Triple Blend

Beer-cured salmon with cucumber and seaweed

photo: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/recipes/beer-cured-salmon-with-cucumber-and-seaweed-salad/

From the Lifestyle section of the Telegraph, a recipe for Beer-cured salmon with cucumber and seaweed salad.

Curiously, the recipe calls for only “mixed seaweed flakes.” It’s not uncommon that food packages or Sea Seasonings - Triple Blend Flakes Shakerrecipes include only a generic term such as “roasted seaweed” or “kelp.” In this case, we think that our Triple Blend Flakes (a blend of Dulse, Nori, and Sea Lettuce) would be both delicious and beautiful in this dish.

 

That’s all for now…see you next time, and until then, Eat your sea vegetables!

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Seaweed in the News

It’s been a busy week.

Super Seaweed

Hopefully the new kelp babies will grow up to look this in late winter 2016!First up, our local public television and radio network, MPBN, ran a very nice story about our friends at Maine Fresh Sea Farms, the many benefits of seaweeds for people and planet (including mitigating the effects of ocean acidification), and seaweed farming: “Maine Seaweed: the next Super-Food?”

“Americans are already familiar with dried seaweed imported from Asia, and foraging for edible seaweeds along the coasts is a tradition that dates back centuries. However – it’s only in the past several years that an active seaweed farming industry has started to emerge here in Maine. Some believe it’s the forefront of a food revolution.”

By any other Name

Some say seaweed, others, sea vegetables. Sea greens is also a popular choice. All have slightly different connotations. And all refer to the beautiful, tasty, and nutritious marine macroalgae that we love.

Another Maine media outlet, the Lewiston Sun-Journal, also recently featured an article about the wonders of seaweed, and Maine restaurants and chefs diving in to the delights of “seagreens”: “Eats: Dishing up ‘the new kale'”

“Seaweed is delicious, I promise. There’s no need to be afraid just because it’s unfamiliar. It doesn’t have to be slimy. It’s not one food; it’s a whole category of foods, diverse in flavor, texture and uses.”

Chef David Levi of Vinland in Portland

Seaweed: it’s what’s for Breakfast

And here’s a story from across the pond about a “new” (though building on traditional) use of seaweed in food–a range of muesli blends featuring Irish sugar kelp, from SeaBeeTree.

“…SeaBeeTree company has developed a range of muesli products made in Ireland which feature seaweed – sugar kelp harvested off the west coast – in what [the company] claims is a world first.”

That’s all for now…until next time, eat some seaweed!

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