Seaweed May Be the New Lettuce
Food items such as kelp, dulse, alaria and laver may be unfamiliar now, but likely not for long, as these and other varieties of edible seaweed and sea vegetables appear on more shopping lists and restaurant menus. These ingredients are already favored by cooks for the jolt of salty goodness they bring to soups and salads and by health food advocates that appreciate their high levels of essential minerals. Goodies in the pipeline include seaweed-filled bagels, ice cream and chips.
The trend toward farming seaweed instead of harvesting in the wild is making news. Working waterfronts often go dormant in the winter as lobstermen that work during warmer months move inland out of season for part-time jobs. Seaweed is a winter crop that can keep boats out on the water, providing year-round aquaculture employment.
Entrepreneur Matthew Moretti, who operates Bangs Island Mussels, a shellfish and kelp farm in Casco Bay, near Portland, Maine, explains, “Mussels are monoculture,” so he has been growing sugar kelp between mussel rafts to create a more ecological model.