Wednesday, 9 August 2017

New Wave Seaweed Revolution

We love seaweed and use it a fair amount.  We use it to mulch our garden and feed our plants (using excess piles that have washed up on the beach we might add), we wash our hair with seaweed shampoo, and we eat seaweed, whether that be responsibly foraged from our local beaches or ethically sourced purchased products.  

It's tasty stuff and in fact, as vegans, pretty important nutritionally too.  However many vegans don't seem to include seaweed in their diets; some even choosing to avoid it.  A couple of years back Phil wrote a blogpost called 'Seaweed is not Evil' in response to a Youtube video that was circulating in regards to veganism and seaweed.  The video seems to have long been taken down (hence the broken video link on the post now) but his article still makes some good points in terms of some misconceptions in regards to seaweed.  

Seaweed isn't something you run into frequently on the supermarket shelves and this could account for it still being a relatively unexplored product, but we've noticed over the last couple of years or so that the tide seems to be starting to change on that front.  Celtic nations have always had a huge tradition of collecting and using seaweed; the proximity to wild Atlantic shores being an obvious reason.  Indeed our travels in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany over the years have led us to discover certain seaweed products that we have not found elsewhere.  In our own Celtic nation of Cornwall also, seaweed is very much more noticeable than elsewhere in the country.  However, seaweed has definitely gained popularity in more recent years on a wider scale.

We are fortunate enough to have an ethical seaweed supplier right here in Cornwall who've been at the forefront of the new wave seaweed revolution.  The Cornish Seaweed Company started sustainably hand harvesting local edible seaweeds in 2012.  Their website is a great source of information about seaweed and even includes a page of information specifically for vegans.  Check out their lovely video below too.

With over 1500 species of seaweed in Cornwall, if foraging is your thing, you're in the right place for sure.  The majority are edible but not all.  Many are tasty and contain lots of nutrition but again, not all.  If you want to hit the beach or go diving for your supper, you'll need to do at least a little bit of research.  A great resource specific to our local shores is wrapped up in Rachel Lambert's book Seaweed Foraging in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  It's straightforward format  includes not only the crucial identification notes, along with clear colour photos, but also nutritional guidelines, seasonal notes and recipes.  Not all the recipes are vegan or even vegetarian but the majority are, or indeed can be easily adapted.  Do read the guidelines on responsible foraging first though before venturing out to collect your supplies.

If this post has peaked your appetite for seaweed, we encourage you to explore for yourselves this super food that nature has freely provided on our beautiful coastline as well as keep an eye on the ever increasing seaweed products that are appearing in our shops.  The Cornish Seaweed Company online shop has a range of seaweed and seaweed products available and their range is popping up in shops all over the county, and even further afield.  On the Cornish market too (and available online) is this organic and palm oil free Cornish Seaweed Soap
LogoOur taste buds were particularly excited by products that we found on a recent visit to our Celtic cousins in Brittany. They were all made by Bretagne based company Marinoe and all were marked with the official Vegan Society mark.  Their website seems understated in a typically Breton way, and doesn't truly demonstrate the wonders of their products but wow, we really have to visit this company when we are there next. First off we found  their range of seaweed tartares. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  Brav, brav, brav (respecting the Breton language). Then we bumped into Taramalg, a take on taramasalata, traditionally made from fish roe but more sensitively made from seaweed in the Marinoe version. To be honest neither of us had ever had taramasalata but this product really peaked our interest.  It was so good that it lead to us tracking down a Bretagne health food store that stocked it so we could check that the first taste of it hadn't been a one off magical experience!  It was wonderful and we very much look forward to seeing this kind of product being available Kernow Side.  

In terms of our own cooking with seaweed, Phil adds it into Japanese style stews and miso soups a fair amount.  He also adds it into his own home made hummus which is absolutely delicious, as well as making sushi rolls from sheets of nori.  I have experimented with using it in a seitan recipe which I called Seitan of the Sea but one of my favourite recipes is the Sea Fruit Strudel from "Vegan", a great little recipe book from Tony Weston and Yvonne Bishop.  The recipe is also available on the Foods For Life Website.

I end this blogpost in a nod to tradition; both to seaweed and song.  Dulaman is Irish for seaweed and this traditional folk song, below in the Clannad version of the 70's, talks of seaweed gathering and courting.  

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