SEAWEED AND OYSTER FARMS
SEAWEED - Why Farm it?
The history of seaweed as a harvested crop goes back hundreds of years in seacoast and island areas around the world. The seaweed of the Pacific Ocean is the oldest and the most diverse. Much of the native Atlantic seaweed of North America is thought to have originated in the Pacific and migrated to the Atlantic during prehistoric times when both oceans were flooded together to the north. Seaweed predates land plants.
Using seaweed is nothing new. Many native peoples harvested it wild. The nutritional value makes it valuable for human consumption and animal feed, depending upon the species. It's chemical composition has produced numerous useful innovative commercial products. It is so prevalent in other parts of the world, where competition for the market share is challenging - if only due to the labor costs.
Seaweed generally grows fast and is commonly found growing naturally. To farm it, you must find a native species that is available for reproduction. The recent interest in locally grown foods along with the superior clean water standards in North America have helped the U.S. products compete. Seaweed has considerable value ecologically as will be explained by the video in the next section. The market value of wet seaweed per pound can exceed the market value of oysters. The question is, can we afford to farm it? It is a subject worthy of formal research.
The edible qualities of seaweed cause it to be harvested, packaged, and sold in seafood markets and health food stores. Vegetarians laud its value in a broad spectrum of dishes - from seasoning to main ingredients. Baked nori wrappers are commonly used in sushi. Seaweed salad is a staple in Korean restaurants. A bowl of soup in Japan is incomplete without it. Creative American chefs are seeking innovative ways to serve seaweed to provide more international flavors. Click on the various numbered boxes at left to see a slide show of some of the edible possibilities.