As Waitrose reveals a surge in seaweed income final 12 months, we discuss to Scottish producers to obtain out why the neighborhood delicacy is proving so common.

Earlier in the 12 months, grocery store chain Waitrose declared that seaweed is heading to be the superfood of 2021, immediately after product sales soared by 25% in 2020 in contrast with 2019, and were up 70% on gross sales in 2018.

As more people convert to plant-centered diet programs, and actions these kinds of as Veganuary obtain traction, the health and fitness advantages of seaweed are almost unmatched when it arrives to locating healthy substances.

Discovered on rocky coastlines, seaweed has definitely only been linked in former a long time with Asian delicacies, but industry experts on this aspect of the globe are setting up to make the scenario that this “local superfood” is one we need to have to commence paying out a lot more consideration to in our diets.

Managing director of Shore Seaweed, Keith Paterson, says that the upsurge in people buying seaweed in 2020, doesn’t occur as a shock as far more customers are turning to plant-based mostly eating plans.

© Provided
Keith Paterson from Shore Seaweed.

Keith states: “I assume a variety of matters arrive together. The first point is that it performs into the development of plant-primarily based feeding on and seaweed is one of the most dietary plants on the planet so it is received masses of fantastic-for-you minerals, anti-oxidants and is genuinely very good for your gut health and fitness. So it performs into all people types of tendencies.

“Also, specially for vegans and vegetarians, it is superior in iodine, which is a nutrient we truly lack in our weight loss plans. Iodine is actually vital for thyroid health and we have noticed a whole lot of people today who follow a plant-centered diet use seaweed as a way of receiving iodine into their weight loss plans as it normally comes from dairy and fish.

“Another thing is that I feel individuals are obtaining applied to taking in ‘food of the world’ and I consider a whole lot of people associate seaweed with Asian delicacies and people are getting a lot more acquainted with it, these types of as with sushi or ramen soup.”

Cooking with seaweed

Keith’s Wick-primarily based business includes making treats and other food items merchandise that contain seaweed as an ingredient, so that people today can turn into far more familiar with the crop and the way it can be made use of in cooking.

© Method
Keith with some of Shore Seaweed’s solutions.

He states: “I imagine our familiarity with seaweed even now has a very long way to go. When we do shopper investigate, a large amount of people today adore the sound of seaweed, love the idea and the nutritional benefits, but 1 of the most important barriers is that they never know how to cook dinner with it.

“It’s also a person of the good reasons why we as a business put seaweed into completely ready-to-try to eat solutions like crisps and pestos, points that individuals by now know how to use. Seaweed also has a very robust flavour so if you do not use it appropriately, you’re likely to be set off.

“There is a substantial adaptability in makes use of, from soups and stocks, by way of to snacking but we can not expect people to fully grasp that right away. So definitely it’s about people today in the seaweed field being much far more impressive with their goods to make it less difficult for buyers to take in seaweed. As folks turn out to be additional familiar then they may turn out to be far more self-confident in cooking with it.”

Harvesting a superfood

Building the seaweed discovered on Scotland’s coastlines into some thing edible is not as effortless as picking it up from the beach front. In reality, there are many stages that the crop has to go by before they close up in Shore Seaweed’s products, this kind of as their pestos and seaweed chips.

Keith adds: “For seaweed to grow to be edible, the system it goes by is fairly sophisticated. As a new marketplace in the Uk a good deal of polices have to be set in spot. Various species of seaweed all have their individual season as effectively. We only harvest for a few months of the 12 months when it’s in its key – that means it’s growing, it is not reproducing and thus it’s heading to be considerably clearer seaweed and significantly nicer to try to eat.

“We harvest about 12 various species of seaweed that all have diverse flavours. They all have the exact same wellbeing benefits far too, but to various portions.”

“We only hand harvest the seaweed and we make positive that this is only performed in spots that are remote, absent from air pollution and away from where there could be any streams coming off from the land. That is truly crucial as seaweed needs to take up any pollutants in the ambiance or in the drinking water – which is why it is so nutritious, it absorbs the nutrients in the h2o, but also the vitamins and minerals.

“It’s also why our seaweed arrives from Wick. We take a look at all the seaweed and the water we harvest it from. It is really a arduous procedure as we will then choose it back to our manufacturing unit where by we cleanse it and then dry it so it gets a shelf-steady products and will very last for a range of several years.”

Sparking a conversation

Even with the spike in profits previous calendar year, there is continue to a long way for us to go just before we start seeing seaweed as a “local superfood”, as Keith claims.

“For people to turn out to be more mindful of the rewards of seaweed, it all will come back to telling the story. You see superfoods all around but a good deal of them are below a bit of tension because they appear from abroad in which the farming processes are leading to some concerns.

© Shutterstock / shinja jang
Edible, dried seaweed.

“There’s an opportunity in the Uk wherever we can truly situation seaweed as a ‘local superfood’. It is one of the handful of crops we have entry to regionally and is a real superfood. So it’s a mixture of telling the story powering seaweed, how it’s so sustainable and the innovation about how to take in it.”

Wellness acutely aware

Fiona Houston, founder of Edinburgh-based mostly Mara Seaweed – which harvests a great deal of its merchandise in Fife – and a board member at the Scottish Seaweed Industry Affiliation, suggests the very-nutritious crop has been a superfood for centuries, even though far more awareness of it is coming to the surface in 2021.

She says: “I believe there are a number of various good reasons as to why there is been an improve in seaweed profits. I consider individuals are getting far more wellbeing conscious and additional informed of the rewards, specially since anyone has been cooking at house though they’re in the middle of the pandemic.

© Peter Dibdin
Fiona Houston of Mara Seaweed.

“People are also turning out to be a great deal more adventurous in what they take in and are undertaking a little bit a lot more experimenting, especially in terms of Asian cooking and seaweed – even Scottish seaweed – is affiliated with that. Eating seaweed is not so alien as it utilised to be.

“Another big component is the change to plant-centered consuming, which is a substantial change in people’s consuming conduct.

“Seaweed is likely the most historical superfood, not always a new one. Folks along the Scottish coastlines ended up having seaweed in their diet programs generations just before the term ‘superfood’ was coined.”

When it will come to incorportating it into our weight loss plans, it could not be a lot easier and, likewise to Shore Seaweed, the staff at Mara Seaweed have designed merchandise that make it very simple to use, this kind of as their common seaweed flakes and kombu powder.

Fiona Houston harvesting some seaweed.

Fiona adds: “It can be incorporated into the diet plan really conveniently. At Mara Seaweed we have established some seaweed flakes that can be stirred into sauces and employed as seasoning and conveniently integrated into your day to day cooking. It adds flavour and actually lessens your salt information even though offering you so quite a few well being added benefits. The most obvious way is to cook seaweed and seafood collectively, but it can be similarly utilised as element of a plant-centered food plan or stirred by means of pasta.

“It’s critical to know that we are not chatting about imported seaweed from Asia. This is our opportunity in Scotland to be involved with building an industry all over a pure useful resource that is so sustainable and so great for you. It suits in with the government’s UN progress objectives and many others as seaweed captures about 50% extra carbon than the tropical rainforest and does not need any fertiliser. It is just an remarkable crop.”

Additional about seaweed…

Recipe: How to whip up a delectable two-course lunch with regionally foraged seaweed

Why summertime is the period to forage for tremendous-wholesome seaweed