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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“Seaweed-held”

April is national poetry month, and to celebrate MCSV’s General Manager Seraphina Erhart dove down and brought up some seaweed-connected poems…

 

The Otters and the Seaweed

This is what you need to know:
you need to know that otters wrap themselves
in seaweed so they won’t,

while sleeping at night, float out to sea . . .
Are you imagining this?
Can you see the otters actually doing this?

Does it break your heart a little?
Does it seduce you just a bit
into loving more

this odd hard world?
Oh otters, wrap yourselves tight! And sleep,
exactly like you do, floating but seaweed-held

in our salty living waters! Oh otters,
wrap yourselves tight! And you,
the one who doesn’t, the one who doesn’t

tether himself down right,
we are with you as you float away,
we are with you as you sleep

and lose yourself in the night.

 

Empty Bowl

Floating seaweeds
in a miso soup
my heart grows
and I find patience
near the bottom

 

Buain duilisg

Seal ag buain duilisg do charraig
seal ag aclaidh
seal ag tabhairt bhidh do bhoctaibh
seal i gcaracair.

A while gathering dillisk from the rock
a while fishing
a while giving food to the poor
a while in my cell.

 – stanza of a poem written by an anonymous 12th century Irish monk and the earliest known record of seaweed harvesting for food (Ó Madagáin, 1994) (Dillisk is a word for dulse used in Ireland.)

 

And the classic, Seaweed, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who also gave us this gem, from The Secret of the Sea

Till my soul is full of longing

For the secret of the sea,

And the heart of the great ocean

Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

(with thanks to the folks at Maine Seaweed Festival, who put these lines on their canvas totes…LOVE!)


Sources:

Buain duilisg

The Otters and the Seaweed, Teddy Macker

Empty Bowl, Reza Mahani

Seaweed, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Secret of the Sea, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Sea Veggies go to School

EEMS 3rd grade Apr 2016

A frond of Sugar Kelp is held aloft by eager learners at Ellsworth Elementary School.

Twenty students at Ellsworth Elementary Middle School dove right in to an afternoon of hands-on exploration of vegetables from the sea last Thursday, April 14th. The subject was met with some skepticism by the sharp-minded students of Mrs. Backman’s third grade: “How can kelp be a vegetable? It lives underwater!” We investigated the similarities of land plants and sea algae, but had to concede that sea vegetables are not scientifically categorized as plants. The kids were especially fascinated by the root-like holdfast of the giant Sugar Kelp we brought in and first of all needed to know, “Can we touch it?” The slick alginate surface encouraged many ooh’s and aww’s as well as curious questions about health and beauty benefits of rubbing it on your skin. The reactions to the news that most of them have already eaten seaweed in the form of ice cream were mixed. Some were thrilled and others less so, but declared the realization did not diminish ice cream’s deliciousness.

EEMS 3rd grade Apr 2016 5

Students getting a close-up look at rehydrated seaweed samples.

The highlight of our classroom visit was the rehydration exercise. Each child was given a magnifying glass, a cup of water and a piece of red, green and brown seaweed (dulse, sea lettuce and sugar kelp). They each looked on in wonder as their tiny samples unfolded and seem to come back to life before them. They observed that the smell, texture and color were all enhanced by a quick soak in the water. Some remarked that the water even took on some of the color of the seaweed.

The next part of our adventure was to taste. Kelp Krunch™ bars were joyfully passed around and again there were mixed reviews. Most of them loved it and declared that they couldn’t wait to tell their parents that they had eaten seaweed!

As the Kelp Krunch™ bars were munched, we moved on to the inaugural round of a new game we call “Kelp-o.” Each student received a bingo card with pictures and new terms such as fronds, stipes and holdfast, as well as new concepts like sustainability, aquaculture and wild harvest. “Kelp-o!” was eventually achieved by a couple of students and they all went home with Kelp Krunch™ bars to commemorate the adventure. All in all, it was an exciting day of seeing, touching, tasting and learning about this little-known, but gaining in popularity, superfood.

EEMS 3rd grade Apr 2016 2Many thanks to Healthy Acadia and their Food Corps volunteer, Ali Mediate, for helping make this amazing connection.
~Kara Ibarguen
MCSV Community  Outreach
(and Krunch Baker!)

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Seaweed in the News

This week, a little departure–we’ll focus on seaweed-related books that have either come out or come to our attention recently.

For many years we’ve had The New Seaweed Cookbook by Crystal June Maderia on our shelves, and enjoyed its recipes. We were excited to see that Maderia has published the second edition, a lovely little book. From seasonings and salads, to main dishes and desserts, the recipes feature sea vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods in beautiful creations. Maderia also runs Kismet, a farm-to-table, whole-foods restaurant in Montpelier, Vermont.

coverWholeBowlAlso new on our shelves is The Whole Bowl, from Rebecca Wood and Leda Scheintaub, with everything from stocks to stews and extra-hearty soups, all gluten- and dairy-free. Sea veggies are included in some recipes, and the authors feature a kombu-shitake stock, to “double the umami–earthy–flavor.” Rebecca Wood, “whole foods pioneer and diet consultant,” has lots of information on seaweed, health, and cooking on her site. Leda Scheintaub is also the author of Cultured Foods for your Kitchen.

Looking back a little further, Fiona Houston and Xa Milne published seaweed and eat it, a family foraging and cooking adventure, in 2008. The duo went on to found and run Mara Seaweed in the UK. This book is all about getting out in nature and experiencing the world through wild foods. The section on seaweed features seaweed information, lore, foraging tips, and of course recipes.

We will be taking a Seaweed in the News break next week–see you in a couple of weeks! Hopefully it will feel like spring here in Maine by then. In the mean time, get out, get cooking, and eat some seaweed!

 

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Yam fries with seaweed seasoning, from “The Organic Gourmet”

Yam fries with sea veg Leslie Cerier 2016

Yam fries with Dulse and Nori seasoning…yum! Photo courtesy of Leslie Cerier.

Leslie Cerier, a chef, author, wellness coach, caterer, and educator also known as “The Organic Gourmet,” recently shared with us a recipe for yam fries dusted with seaweed and other goodies, which were a hit at one of her workshops. Leslie specializes in vegetarian, vegan, local, organic, seasonal, and gluten-free cooking and has been creating nourishes dishes with sea vegetables for many years. She also co-authored the cookbook Sea Vegetable Celebration with MCSV founder Shep Erhart.

This dish is not only delicious and nutritious, but filled with gorgeous color–one of the hallmarks of Leslie’s recipes. The version pictured here was seasoned with a blend of Dulse and Nori, lightly toasted, plus Kelp powder, toasted sesame seeds, and sea salt. Leslie’s website has a recipe with a slightly different seasoning, this time with hemp seeds in place of sesame. And in one of her cookbooks, Going Wild in the Kitchen, is yet another seasoning blend, this one combining nettles with the seeds and seaweeds.

A big thank you to Leslie for sharing this recipe, and for all of her work connecting people to the goodness of sea vegetables. I bet this dish will show up at one of our company birthday potlucks sometime soon!

 

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Seaweed in the News

Let’s get a bit more science-y this week.

Who are you, anyway?

The Marine Stewardship Council and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council are working to develop a global standard for sustainable seaweed production, something that many see as long overdue. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables has been committed to sustainable harvesting from the beginning (along with many other Maine seaweed companies), so this is an interesting development.

Photo of seaweed with small swollen areas at the end of each frondJust in this week, news that the ASC has come out in favor of DNA testing to confirm the identity of seaweed products and materials, and improve traceability. Seaweed & Co. and a lab in the UK have also recently announced development of a “DNA-based certification test” to trace authenticity in seaweed products.

Going for the gut

Here’s one from back in February, but noteworthy enough to share: scientists recently completed a study of the bioavailability in humans (whether and how much of a substance gets taken up by the body when a food or material is ingested) of a type of phenolic compound that’s unique to brown seaweeds (such as the rockweed, Ascophyllum nodosum, on the right). Study results suggest that the compound, called phlorotannin, was metabolised and may have anti-inflammatory and other beneficial effects in the lower digestive tract.

The heat is on

Gracilaria2.JPGAlso coming in with the news tide this week was a story about how climate change is affecting a whole economy based on the work of African women seaweed farmers. The news is not good.

“After tourism revenues, seaweed exportation is the second biggest contributor to Zanzibar’s economy and employs thousands of women…When the seaweed is exposed to high temperatures, it gets stressed and can die.”

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Seaweed in the News

This week, it’s all news related to Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, all the time. Let’s start with a little video fun…

Fresh DulseThe Wonders of Dulse

From Superfooddrinks.org, an article and video all about Dulse. They mention MCSV and other good sources (thank you!). Check it out to learn more about Dulse, what it looks like, where to find it, and the good stuff that’s in it. The site has articles and videos about other seaweeds, too.

The Kids are All Right

greenhouse dryingLast week, MCSV customer service and education & outreach team member Jean visited Herring Gut Learning Center in midcoast Maine. A group of Herring Gut students have been learning about seaweed aquaculture, and are running their own kelp farm. Jean toured the facility with the kids, learned about their kelp farming adventures, and “talked shop” about how to use and create products with seaweed. Read more in an article on the Herring Gut website.

Fun in the Field

IMG_2479Two of MCSV’s favorite seaweed scientists, Jessica Muhlin and Nic Blouin, are teaming up again in July 2016 to teach “Introduction to Maine Seaweeds: Identification, Ecology, and Ethnobotany.” The course will be July 24-30 at Eagle Hill Institute in nearby Steuben–a stunningly beautiful location for what is sure to be a fantastic course.

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Seaweed in the News

It’s Friday again, and time for a little seaweed news roundup. Yeehaw!

Back to the Future (no, not Marty McFly…)

Ascophyllum nodosum.jpgFirst up, an article featuring another long-time Maine seaweed company, North American Kelp, in the Boothbay Register. Owner Bob Morse started out in 1971 (same year as Maine Coast Sea Vegetables), and has been harvesting, drying, and selling seaweed as animal and plant food supplements, soil conditioners, and more, ever since. Their website is a trove of historical and other information. North American Kelp installed a wood-fired rotary-drum seaweed dryer seven years ago, echoing a nineteenth century seaweed processor who was operating a short distance from where NAK started–and cutting their reliance on imported fossil fuels.

“Back to the Future–with Seaweed”

 

Climate Change in the Gulf of Maine

This is unfortunately not a fun story, though it is told (partly) through cartoons. Maine’s own O’Chang Studios recently released a video that explores what ocean acidification (changes in the acidity level of the ocean, lowering pH, with associated effects on all kinds of sea life) means for the Gulf. Here in Maine we love our clams, mussels, lobsters, and other shellfish, and ocean acidification can be bad news for them. According to some estimates, our little corner of the ocean world is warming faster, and becoming more acidified, than many other water bodies on the earth.

Seaweed, however, brings some rays of light to a dark situation–researchers have been exploring the effects that seaweeds–the great photosynthesizers, absorbing excess CO2 that can trigger acidification–have on changing ocean pH. Seaweed harvesting, which can actually lead to increased biomass as the sea plants grow back, and seaweed cultivation were cited in a report by the Maine Ocean Acidification Commission as important activities to help mitigate acidification effects:

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

Making it a good thing, on yet another level, to harvest, grow, eat, and use seaweeds!

“A Climate Calamity In The Gulf Of Maine Part 2: Acid In The Gulf”

And finally, just for fun,

a little recipe that crossed our desks, from the Mara Seaweed website–celebrity chef Nigella Lawson creates a salad with baby kale, smoked salmon, fennel, and… Dulse!

 

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Fukushima: five years

Five years ago last Friday, at MCSV we were tuning in to news reports all day as information slowly rolled in about the earthquake, tsunami, and disaster at the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, Japan. We looked at each other in disbelief, worry, and fear, struggling to comprehend, and shared our sorrow for the people at Fukushima and the horrors they were experiencing half a world away.

Seaweed, Beach, Seaweed On Beach

Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus) is a rockweed that is relatively rich in iodine and alginates.

Soon after the news began to break our phones began to ring, and emails poured in. People were looking for sea vegetables, especially ones from the Atlantic ocean, far from the nuclear disaster. They wanted sea vegetables for their high iodine content to block out radioactive Iodine-131. And they were hearing about other properties of sea vegetables that could protect them from radioactivity–the fibrous alginates in brown seaweeds such as kelps and rockweeds that have been shown to bind with radioactive elements and help the body remove them, and the rich mineral content, plus vitamins and other components that provide nourishment and support for bodies under stress. Many people who ordinarily bought Asian seaweeds were desperate for products that came from elsewhere. On the phone and in email, customers shared their own shock, fear, disbelief, sorrow, and prayers, along with gratitude for MCSV products.

We knew that a disaster such as Fukushima could happen in other places, closer to home, and that we were incredibly lucky and grateful to still have access to healthy sea plants. We did our best in the ensuing weeks and months to share the resources we had as widely and fairly as possible, given limitations of supply–it was almost spring, and we had been selling the previous year’s harvest for months, but the 2011 harvest wouldn’t begin for another month or two.

We started testing our own products for radioactivity, both previous years’ harvests and and as the 2011 stocks came in. We also took a crash course in radioactivity and radiation, in the environment, in foods, and in human health, working with an expert at the University of Maine. Each year since then we’ve tested a selection of products for radioactivity, and thankfully the results have been good.

Looking back now, five years down the road, we are still grateful–for the sea vegetables, for the level of safety we have had in our corner of the world from nuclear disaster and fallout, and as always for our customers, colleagues, and friends.

Fukushima, Cherry Blossom Viewing Mountains

The beautiful side of Fukushima–cherry blossoms and wildflowers.

In the past week, many stories about the current state at Fukushima, what’s been done, and plans for continued cleanup have flowed in. From what we’ve seen in these stories, it seems that at least some radioactivity continues to leak from the destroyed plant, and cleanup–as much as it’s even possible–will take decades. We live in a fragile, yet resilient, world–a world where tragedies such as Fukushima happen, and sea vegetables also thrive, with all of their unique, nourishing, and healing properties.

Our thoughts and prayers go to the people in and around Fukushima, and will continue.

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Seaweed in the News

It’s been a busy week for seaweed, with some nice local coverage from Maine newspapers in the mix.

One thing we neglected to say last week is that we will share stories that we find interesting, and that we think may be interesting to you, but Maine Coast Sea Vegetables doesn’t necessarily endorse or agree with everything that is shared here.

Seeing seaweed

Sarah Redmond will speak about seaweed aquaculture at the Belfast Free Library March 22, 6:30 pm.

Sarah Redmond out on the water. Image from bflpress and BDN

Just yesterday, the Bangor Daily News ran a story about a talk that Sarah Redmond, of University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant, will be giving later this month at the Belfast Free Library:  “Seeing Seaweed: How Aquaculture is Changing the Way We Look at Both.”

“Maine is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and delicious seaweeds, with a long tradition of use at home and on the farm. Sea vegetables are our local “super foods,” providing a valuable source of essential minerals, vitamins, and unique marine bio-active ingredients for human, plant, and animal health.”

Seaweed: it’s what’s for dinner

Earlier in the week, Peggy Grodinsky, Food Editor at the Portland Press Herald, revealed the results of a dinner-party experiment she recently conducted, where every dish contained seaweed and the guests didn’t know it (at least that was the idea). She also informally reviews the new cookbook from chef and ocean advocate Barton Seaver, Superfoods Seagreens, from which the dinner recipes came.

“If my dinner is any indication, Americans are more than willing to open their hearts, minds and palates to seaweed. (And frankly, over the decades and centuries, we’ve grown to love tomatoes, garlic, spicy food, raw fish, Brussels sprouts, beets, cilantro, oxtails, bacon in chocolate… so really, why not seaweed?”

“Seaweed passes the dinner-party test”

Salty seaweed story

This actually came up last week, but we won’t get too technical about that. From the blog, Clean Food, Dirty Girl, an enthusiastic post about different kinds of seaweeds and their benefits, all as part of a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Plus a recipe for “Tofu Poke.” Who could resist? Note that the author talks about Wakame and Kombu, which usually refer to Asian varieties. We sell two similar species, from the North Atlantic: Alaria and Kelp. Be aware that this post has some salty language!

“If you toast a piece of sprouted bread and add avocado, thinly sliced red onion and sprinkle a little dulse flakes on top you’ll be a happy camper (without actually camping. Thank god). Keep in mind that a little dulse goes a long way – a sprinkle here and there is all you need.”

“All About Seaweed + Tofu Poke Recipe Packed with Seaweed”

tofu_poke_small_plate_top

Image from Clean Food, Dirty Girl

 


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