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She Sells Seaweed

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Kacie harvests wild seaweed by hand!

Like the majority of Americans, seaweed is not a major component of my diet. Before interviewing Kacie Loparto, a hand-harvester of wild seaweed, the salty, slippery vegetable was, to me, something that occasionally wrapped around my legs while swimming in the ocean and held the contents of my sushi roll in one piece. Though seaweed may be new to me in regards to food, it has been utilized as food source for a very long time, and traditional methods of harvesting it have been passed down through generations. In 2007, after completing her degree at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, Kacie decided to continue her hands-on education in agriculture and found somebody to apprentice with in Maine to learn seaweed harvesting. Harvesting of seaweed, like any wild food, is a craft that must be learned. So, she traveled to Maine to learn from some of the best, from somebody who had been out on the ocean for almost 40 years.

As the consumption and growing of seaweed is quickly increasing in popularity, sustainable methods of harvesting this wild source of nutrition are becoming more and more crucial. There are many things about seaweed harvesting that may only be learned by apprenticing with somebody who has sufficient knowledge about the practice. There are things like California Frond Tip harvesting–not taking a whole plant from the stem, but just a portion of it in order to ensure that it can replenish itself. And, how to monitor seaweed patches to determine if they are healthy enough to harvest from in consecutive years. Kacie has traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast learning different methods and seeing what it really takes to run a seaweed business. Whether in California or Maine, the best months to gather seaweed are June and July, and she always uses boats to get out to the seaweed, either row boats or kayaks. Her day usually starts around 3am, at which time the tide is the lowest and she has approximately two hours of prime time harvesting. If the tide is low enough, she may even be able to reach the seaweed by foot. After the seaweed is gathered and brought back to shore, it is hung out on lines to dry before it is ready to be eaten,

Kacie hangs seaweed out to dry after harvesting!

So, you ask, why seaweed?  Seaweeds are extremely high in iodine and magnesium and thus, good for protecting the thyroid and protecting us from different kinds of cancer that are caused by environmental pollutants. Kacie also told me that seaweed is a good alternative for people who don’t live by the ocean thus are not able to absorb the proper amounts of iodine through breathing the ocean air. Studies have suggested that, if used as a healing food, it can slow the growth of cancer cells.

Six years after Kacie began her apprenticeship, you can find her selling her seaweed at different farmer’s markets and blogging about her adventures on her website, She Sells Seaweed  www.shesellsseaweed.com  She educates people about different ways to eat seaweed, and is attempting to figure out how seaweed gathering is going to fit into her life. In the future she hopes to get into something like botany, lead plant walks, learn/teach how to use plants medicinally as well as food, and most of all, to educate people about wild foods. When asked why seaweed is so important to her, Kacie said that above all, she appreciates seaweed as a food source and likes harvesting for the adventure of the work. The interview ended with Kacie admitting, “I just love to eat seaweed.”

A 1 oz bag of Sea Palm

While Kacie uses seaweed in practically everything she cooks, her favorite recipe, also one of the best ways to soak up the most nutritional value from the seaweed, is miso soup! This recipe can be found on her website along with many others:

“To make the vegetarian dashi broth, boil 3 cups of water with slices of fresh ginger root. After about five minutes add a few strips of kombu, turn off heat and cover. Covering pot helps retain iodine and infuses broth with the healing alginates. Steep for 10 minutes, and then pour through strainer if you want only the broth.

To make the broth into miso soup, add a teaspoon of miso paste, sliced scallion, and grated carrots and daikon radish. You can also add umeboshi plum paste and coconut oil to enrich the soup even more.”

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Written by Yvette Cabrera

August 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Crazy for Critters: Feasting on Backyard Bugs in Austin, Texas

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By Ilana Nevins

This year’s fifth annual Bug Festival was held on June 23, 2012 in Austin, Texas. This year’s festival relied on attendees to BYOB (bring your own bugs) to better explore the tasty treats of their own backyards. Mallory Wildcraft, who hosted the festival alongside Allen Davisson, is best known for her tutorials on how to “Grow your own Groceries”, videos and trainings to aid even the most inexperienced gardeners to create a backyard bursting with food. While many are still skeptical of chowing down on backyard bugs, Wildcraft realized that turning the experience into a party might make the idea easier to swallow. Kids and parents alike delight in the chance to prepare some household pests in a delicious dish.

Wildcraft shows us not only that eating bugs can be cause for celebration, but that healthy habits can be found in your own backyard. Insects are high in protein and low in carbs, making them a nutrient dense, healthy option. Even if bugs are not your first pick for fresh food, consider the other edible delights your backyard has to offer. There is often more than meets the eye, whether it is crawling in circles, growing up vines or rooting down beneath the soil. So the next time you reach for a bag of chips, consider a handful of critters instead.

Written by inevins

July 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm

4 Fresh Thoughts on Food for the 4th

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By Yvette Cabrera

For most Americans, the 4th of July means it’s time to put on their red, white, and blue and pull out the barbeque. So, I ask this: what is a better way to show support for your country than by supporting the backbone of it–agriculture and the local economy? Here’s a few ways to exercise your right to a healthy lifestyle.

Fresh veggies on the grill. Support your local farmer!

 

  1. Build a better burger. Make an independent effort to use more sustainable products: some grass-fed beef at your local grocery store, or even go to the farmer directly! And don’t forget your vegetables: veggie burgers and fresh seasonal veggies on the grill, especially from your local farmers.
  2. Raise a brew! The United States, and California in particular, has one of the fastest growing rates of microbreweries in the world. There are beers of all flavors, strengths and sizes, so support your local brewery.
  3. Cool off with a “spritzer!” Mix mineral water with the juice of any fresh fruit in season with wine or non-alcoholic. Try pouring the alcohol-free concoction into some popsicle trays to have a delicious frozen treat to help beat the heat of these record hot summer days.
  4. Take a hike! Go on a bike ride or hike to a spot that is relatively elevated to catch the fireworks from a better view! If you live anywhere near the water, kayaking and sailing are always extremely refreshing ways to get to waterfront displays.

A little sustainable thinking can help to make Independence Day a little more healthy and active for ourselves, as well as the planet.  Now that makes freedom ring!

 

Photo credit: David Reber’s Hammer Photography’s photostream via Flickr

Written by Anna Marie Piersimoni

July 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm