While we are exhausting the fish stock in the sea, we are not harvesting enough of one of the most nutritious produce from the sea – seaweed of all sorts.
Our prehistoric ancestors started cultivating land vegetation some 12000 years ago, the modern men continuous with this tradition. However, considering 70% of the earth’s surface is water, with 97% of the water sea or salt water, and roughly one-third of the current world population lives not more than 60 miles from a seafront coast, we have neglected in cultivating and harvesting this aquatic vegetation to feed the world population as an alternative food source.
Yes, in recent years, folks in urban cities are acquainted with a type of seaweed called nori through Japanese Sushi. Regular consumption of aquatic plants tends to be still isolated with societies that have long-established dwelling along sea fronts such as the Japanese, Southeastern Chinese, Peruvian, Chilean, and Irish.
Seaweed is a collective name for the nutrient-packed aquatic plants. There are many types of such plants in a variety of colors and shapes. Those we are familiar with are kelp, Irish moss, laver, algae, and the real seaweeds. Most urban people are more familiar with Japanese nori which is a type of algae that are compacted into sheet form. Kelps are long ribbon-shaped. Irish moss, well, looks like clustered thick moss. Laver resembling thick colorful vegetable leaves.
Seaweed is a natural source of iodine which is crucial for optimum thyroid function. The plant is also an excellent mineral source of calcium, magnesium, iron and copper. Some species can contain up to 70% of protein. Spirulina, a type of algae, is considered one of the complete protein sources in the world. Spirulina can be easily grown and multiply in a controlled in-house environment which is a key factor as a food source for increasing population.
The extraction of seaweed is already extensively used by food manufacturer as a gelling and emulsifying additives in desserts, confectionery, sauces, salad dressings, beverages, dietetic foods and baked food. We just need to step up the plate and consuming more of it in its natural form, whether in soup (Japanese miso soup), breakfast (Irish laverbread), protein supplement (spirulina powder), salad (raw seaweed), meal (sushi), beverage (Belize dulce) and as a snack (nori sheets). One of the easiest way to introduce this nutritious aquatic greens into your daily meal is to include shredded pieces of seaweed into salads. They taste nice tossed with lime juice, honey, chili flakes and olive oil. Your neighborhood oriental store is usually a reliable place to find them especially nori. If not, various online stores are selling seaweed produce.
In the Victorian era, a trip to the seaside in the summer usually involved collecting, drying and compacting seaweed fresh from the sea. If you decide to take it up as a fun beach activity please do it only where it is allowed and do it in moderation as seaweed beds are important ecological contributors. Please consult relevant authorities for advice ahead. The readers are advised to research and evaluate the pro and cons prior to engage in such activity. The writer holds no responsibility for any undesirable outcome.