Would You Like Sprinkles On Your Seaweed?


 |  Science & The Environment

It promises to be a blistering summer and that means pistachio ice cream will always be on the grocery list. If you are digging into some Ben and Jerry’s, look at the ingredients and you will see something interesting.

The ingredient ‘carrageenan’ is science-speak for extracts from red seaweed also known as Irish Moss. It is a native species in the British Isles and there is a high probability you have ingested it in the form of cottage cheese, jelly, infant formula, pudding, non-dairy milks and yes, of course, that pint of ice cream. 

The extract is mainly used as a thickener agent to stabilize the product, which is why you have never tasted the salty flavour of seaweed in these foods. 

Now, as you have already eaten seaweed, I would like to applaud you for eating sustainably! Yes, eating seaweed is sustainable in more ways than one and here’s why:

  1. Seaweed helps to remove CO2 building up in the ocean.
  2. Seaweed grows faster than trees, which facilitates a higher rate of CO2 offsetting.
  3. Seaweed doesn’t require fertilizer, pesticides or fresh water to grow.
  4. Seaweed doesn’t compete for land space. 
  5. Seaweed can regenerate marine ecosystems.
  6. Seaweed farming is a growing industry that provides job opportunities during a time of mass COVID layoffs.

This only scratches the surface of why eating seaweed is good for the planet as well as for yourself. In fact, Ronald Osinga of the Wageningen University in the Netherlands discovered that it would take a mere 1% of the ocean (roughly the size of Washington State) to grow enough seaweed to provide the global population with enough protein to survive. I am not suggesting we should grow a state sized patch of seaweed, due to the ecological impact of preventing sunlight from reaching other marine life, but I wish to demonstrate the evident potential seaweed has in combating climate change. 

The idea of eating seaweed on a regular basis may be like those theorizing insects being the next main source of protein, but it’s not actually a far-fetched idea. It’s already a regular part of our diet. 

If you are keen to increase the seaweed in your life to boost your sustainability, here are some recommendations (all are Ocean Wise partners): 

  • Sea Forest: Based on Vancouver Island, they make products from pasta to noodles to seasonings.
  • Kove: This is a new brand launching Summer 2021 and will have kelp jerky, chips and seaweed salad.
  • Kelping Hands: If you want to go above and beyond in the COVID era, check out this brand for your hand sanitizer needs.

Just when you thought the benefits couldn’t get any better, supporting small businesses who sell seaweed helps the environment, the economy and yourself, so the next time you reach for seaweed in the form of Ben and Jerry’s, consider how you can expand your seaweed lifestyle to noodles, jerky, pasta and hand sanitizer. 

You scream, I scream, we all scream for seaweed!