From the Future of Food podcast, Farming the Ocean is one of our most popular shows.
Move over, kale. There’s a new (sea) vegetable in town and it wants to join you on the plate as a healthy food. Kale, just to fill you in if you haven’t visited a restaurant lately, is showing up in fast-casual places like sweetgreen, and in high-end venues. It’s not just for healthy types or hippies, but is well on the road to its own culinary legitimacy. How much fame can a vegetable handle? Apparently, a lot.
Kelp might be next. Sea vegetables are certainly having their moment. As with kale, chefs are driving the train, experimenting with seaweed as more than a garnish. They making cocktails with it, eye-popping salads, and adventurous main dishes, moving it from mere condiment to the center of the dinner plate.
You may have first encountered seaweed in a store like Erewhon Natural Foods, where it was part of a macrobiotic diet. Now, you very nearly can’t avoid it in Whole Foods, where it appears whole, dried, and raw.
I interviewed seaweed farmers from Maine to California for this episode, number 10 in the series. Seraphina Erhart of Maine Coast Sea Vegetables told me about the challenges of harvesting in the wild. (She also spoke with me about the history of seaweed in the US, a longer conversation that I am including in the book I’m writing about food.)
Todd Jagoutz shared some of his knowledge about farming seaweed.
Bren Smith speaks about what motivated him to pursue ocean farming as a sustainable practice. He has become a leader in the movement to make kelp the new kale, and bring seaweed to the center of the dinn er plate.
Dr. Michael Graham discusses what goes into farming seaweed near, but not in, the ocean, why chefs love it, and how marrying his wife, a chef, helped him see the value of seaweed farming as a business use case, education tool, and avocation.