August shutdown

It’s that time again, when we close up shop for about four weeks for our annual August shutdown. We close at the end of business this Friday, July 29, and re-open on Monday August 29.

Shutdown gives most of us a break, except for some office staff who work a bit to keep things running, and the harvesters who are working hard to bring in and dry the seaweeds we all rely on. It also gives us a chance to have some things done in our facility that are difficult to do when we’re open. The tradition began at a time when Maine Coast Sea Vegetables was a tiny operation, with only a few people doing everything–harvesting, drying, sorting, packing, filling orders, and paying the bills. August is a peak harvest time, and there weren’t enough hands to do it all. Now that MCSV is a bit larger, with more hands to do the work, the tradition continues as a way to help our staff sustain themselves. And no one can argue with having a break during August in Maine!

So enjoy the rest of your summer in your own corner of the world, and keep on enjoying your sea vegetables, too.

Thank you to all of our customers, colleagues, friends, families,

and all seaweed lovers!

We’ll see you on the other side…

Mixed weeds.MCSV

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Maine Calling

Check out a recent episode of Maine Calling on MPBN, our public radio network, on “The Business of Seaweed in Maine.” The call-in show features Tollef Olson of Ocean’s Balance, George Seaver of Ocean Organics, and our own Shep Erhart, founder of Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, plus callers with wide-ranging views discussing the past, present, and future of Maine seaweed business.

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Seaweed Education Events

One of the things we love best about our work is getting involved in seaweed education efforts, from visits to local schools to supplying educators with seaweeds, to spreading the word about cool events. Here’s a few of our favorites.

Looking ahead, Micah Woodcock of Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company will teach a cooking class on Maine seaweeds as part of a series from Edible Island Culinary and Ecological Center in Stonington, Maine on Monday August 29, 5-8 pm.

Happening now…

Eagle Hill Institute in nearby Steuben hosts an incredible series of workshops, classes, and seminars in the warmer months (in addition to events and programs in other seasons). For the past several years, they’ve offered Introduction to Maine Seaweeds: Identification, Ecology, and Ethnobotany, a weeklong seminar on Maine’s marine macroalgae, or seaweeds. The seminar is taught by Jessica Muhlin, associate professor of marine biology at Maine Maritime Academy,  and Nic Blouin, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Rhode Island. Jessie and Nic are longtime friends of Maine seaweed and of MCSV, connect science and the arts, and are fun and creative educators. This year’s seminar runs from July 24-30, and will include a visit from Seraphina Erhart, MCSV general manager.

coast-encounter-Animation-24And ongoing…

Carol Steingart of Coast Encounters offers a variety of “Intertidal Excursions” on the coast of Maine, or bringing the coast to you. Her programs for adults, kids, and families are creative, engaging, and fun! They include Algal Edibles, focused on getting to know, cooking with, and otherwise enjoying Maine’s sea veggies.

 

 

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Seaweed in the News

The seaweed news has been rolling in like the tide, but today we’re going to focus on one story–Zadie’s Oyster Room in New York City, and the affinity between oysters and seaweed.

Zadie’s is a new but old-fashioned oyster bar just opened by chef Marco Canora (also chef and owner of Hearth in NYC). The New York Times recently featured one of  his dishes in an article in the Food section, “The Secret to Zadie’s Poached Oysters”:

Mr. Canora says the secret weapon in the sauce is the wakame. “Oysters and seaweed, they obviously go really well together.”

Poached, and raw, aren’t the only oyster presentations at Zadie’s, where you can also find the succulent bivalves baked, fried, steamed, and pickled. Seaweed accompanies many of these dishes, from sea lettuce to dulse to wakame and hijiki, plus a kelp slaw on the side. In fact, in another article on Zadie’s, at BedfordandBowery.com, Canora elaborates:

“All of my cooked oyster dishes incorporate seaweed. They really compliment and amplify the flavor of the oysters.”

It turns out that Canora is using some of our seaweeds in his menu. The wakame mentioned is likely our Alaria (Alaria esculenta), a seaweed very similar to Japanese wakame and delicious in soups, salads, and seafood dishes. Alaria thrives on rocky ledges in the turbulence where waves crash and currents surge.

Canora has noted that he nearly called Zadie’s an oyster and seaweed bar, he is so struck by how the two complement (and even compliment) one another. And if you look closely at  the image on Zadie’s storefront, you can see that a wreath of seaweed encircles the name, connected by the curves of an oyster shell.

 

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

And if you have a chance, visit Zadie’s and enjoy all the briny delights…

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Seaweed in the News

“Papa Smurf” Latte

Matcha Mylkbar is set to introduce a series of ‘blue’ dishes to its menu like this ‘Papa smurf’ smoothie bowl. Picture: Matcha Mylkbar

Source: Matcha Mylkbar and Supplied

I’d like a half-decaf, skinny latte with a twist of lemon, please…with algae! In one of the more bizarre stories to come along recently, this one from Australia about new drink offerings at Melbourne cafe Matcha Mylkbar features creations with blue-green algae–hence the Papa Smurf blue.

(Ok, this is not exactly about seaweeds, but all seaweeds are algae, even though not all algae are seaweeds. Blue-green algae are a kind of microalgae, one-celled and microscopic).

Obsession can be a good thing

Another story from down under, this one on why people are supposedly obsessed with the Japanese diet: plenty of carbs, fish, some dairy, fermented foods, and of course, sea vegetables.

The article is about not only the what of eating, but the how: mindful eating, and moderate portions–the article says that in the Japanese diet the emphasis is on eating until one is 80% full.

Every corner of the Earth

We think of Asian countries such as Japan, China, and Korea as centers of sea vegetable consumption, cultivation, and cultural history, but other countries around the world have their own sea vegetable stories, both past and present. “Seaweed gains ground as a pillar of food security in South America” outlines some of these stories, particularly around the use of Porphyra species (“luche”) and kelp (“kollof”) in Chile.

“Seaweeds have been used as human food ever since ancient times, especially in China, the Korean peninsula and Japan. When people from these countries migrated to other regions of the world they took their food habits with them.  This is why dishes based on fresh, dried and salted algae can be found in nearly every corner of the earth.”

That’s all for now. Until next time, Eat Your Sea Vegetables!

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Seaweed in the News

The seaweed news buzz continues this week.

Image result for Gracilaria lemaneiformisSeaweed for Allergies?

First up, a short article about recent research that investigated the potential anti-allergy properties of a polysaccharide (complex sugar) from the “red” seaweed Gracilaria lemaneiformis.

Don’t let the bright green fool you

Another article on seaweed nutrition and uses, from the site NetDoctor. Look out for the image of seaweed salad, though–they show one of the bright green versions that come from food coloring, not seaweed’s natural color. Interestingly, they also recommend that brown sea veggies such as kelp be eaten only once per week, due to high iodine content in some. It’s true that many brown seaweeds have substantial iodine, and that too much of a good thing may not be so good. Each person’s needs, metabolism, and ideal intake of iodine or any nutrient can be somewhat different.

Seaweed Magic

This profile of a pub in the UK that was voted restaurant of the year notes that chef Stephen Harris adds a “magical local ingredient” to the homemadele-beurre-bordier-collection-beurre-beurre-aux-algues butter. You guessed it, seaweed, though they don’t say what kind. That’s the only seaweed mention here, but it’s a good one. And seaweed butter is fantastic–imparting a complex, briny flavor to the richness of good butter. Recipes and usage ideas for seaweed compound butter abound–you can find some here, from Saveur magazine, with oysters in the New York Times cooking section, from chef Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall restaurant, and from Le Beurre Bordier, called the originator of seaweed butter, or beurre d’algues.

And if you want more, here’s the story of chef Harris’ creation of seaweed butter.

It had the fresh, salty, iodine smell of the seaside on a breezy winter’s day. It was vivid green and the taste was extraordinary: somewhere between vanilla, truffles and grass.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the weekend and Eat Your Sea Vegetables!

 

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Seaweed in the News

It’s all about eating and enjoying seaweeds, and the benefits they provide, this week.

The Joys of the Internet

Sometimes a gem is hidden by nondescript or blah surroundings. A lackluster story that came over the transom this week lead us to this video, The Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed, the Ocean’s Superfood, from January 2015. Most of the information seems valid, and the video covers many seaweed species and the benefits they provide. They even mention Maine Coast Sea Vegetables–thank you!

Sweet, Simple Seaweed Salad

The same story also links to a nice video by Dr. Paul Gannon, talking briefly about the benefits of sea veggies and making a simple, delicious-sounding seaweed salad. (He soaks the dried seaweed in tangerine juice, providing the acid and liquid needed to soften it, plus a little sweetness and extra nutrition….yum!)

Golden Alaria--delicious in seaweed salad

Golden Alaria–delicious in seaweed salad

Dr. Gannon talks about Dulse here, and how good it is to snack on right out of the bag, and then brings out several bags of Wakame from different sources. And he uses Wakame in the seaweed salad. What he doesn’t say is that Alaria (Alaria esculenta, which we call Wild Atlantic Wakame) is very similar to Japanese Wakame, and is excellent in seaweed salad. So if you want to make this recipe (or another version, the variations are endless) with more locally or regionally sourced seaweed, check out Alaria.

Seaweed: the Old, New Superfood

Talk of seaweed or varieties such as kelp as the “new superfood,” overtaking kale for the title, abound this year. It’s easy to forget that the only thing new about seaweed is the attention it’s getting. People in coastal cultures around the world have been eating seaweed for centuries, even millennia, for the powerhouse nutrition it contains. (Seriously, millennia–research in Chile has shown evidence of nine species of marine algae at an archaeological site dating back some thirteen to fourteen thousand years ago.) This article features many potential superfoods, including Dulse. Note that Dulse is not a kind of kelp–kelp is a totally different kind of sea veggie!

One of the links in this story goes to an even better one that we missed back in December 2015, featuring Portland, Maine’s Vinland restaurant, chef David Levi, and a sea vegetable tasting and talk they hosted by Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company’s Micah Woodcock. Check out the story to see some of the beautiful dishes Levi has created with seaweed.

“It’s so eye-opening,” says Levi. “It’s so different from what people expect. But there’s not anything especially challenging — it’s just delicious.”

That’s all for now. Until next time, Eat Your Sea Vegetables!

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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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