Seaweed has definitely been getting its fair share of spotlight, having been touted as a “sustainable crop of the future.” But have you ever taken a closer look at what seaweed is, and how to incorporate it more into your sustainable lifestyle?
What is seaweed?
Seaweed is a type of macroalgae found in our rivers, oceans and lakes with thousands of seaweed species around the world. Some of the more common types include red seaweed, brown seaweed, green seaweed and Japanese kelp (known as ‘wakame’).
However, don’t confuse seaweed with kelp. The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but kelp is, in fact, just a type of seaweed.
Why is Seaweed a Sustainable Crop?
Seaweed plays an important role in balancing marine ecosystems. The aquatic plant is also essential to maintaining biodiversity because it offers food and protection for many species. For example, kelp forests shelter species from jellyfish and crabs to grey whales, while also acting as a barrier against storm surges and tides, minimising the impact of strong currents in coastal areas.
Another reason seaweed is a sustainable crop is that seaweed is a ‘carbon sink’. This means that it absorbs carbon dioxide (Co2) from our atmosphere – up to 200 million tonnes of Co2 per year, in fact! Fun fact: the carbon stored by seaweed is called ‘blue carbon’.
Seaweed’s many uses
A large portion of farmed seaweed is intended for consumption, and seaweed has been a staple in East Asian diets for many centuries, primarily because of its exceptional nutritional benefits. The macroalgae is high in omega-3s and contain important minerals including sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Apart from obvious examples like sushi, seaweed is also an essential flavour enhancer in Asian cuisine and often used in stocks or sauces.
Seaweed also has excellent hydrating and exfoliating properties, making it ideal as a skincare ingredient. Skincare products with seaweed extracts usually help with hydration, anti-aging and exfoliation.
Of course, not all types of seaweed are grown for commercial consumption. Many countries also grow seaweed to restore marine habitats and to clean up the oceans.
How to Support Seaweed Farming
With its abundance of benefits, it’s no wonder seaweed on the rise as a sustainable superfood and ingredient. To help support its growth, here are a few innovative products to incorporate into your sustainable routine:
The Seaweed Bath Co. Hair & Body Products
- The founder of The Seaweed Bath Co. initially launched the company to solve her family’s skin issues, but soon decided to share the benefits of seaweed with the world. The company offers a host of hair and body products including bath scrubs and shampoos. We’re loving the Whole Seaweed Detox Bath right now!
Purlisse Sheet Mask
The Blue Lotus and Seaweed Treatment Sheet Mask from Purlisse has a soothing and balancing effect on your skin. Apart from seaweed, the masks also contain a blend of white mulberry and anise fruit. This might just be the moisturising product we all need.
MyVegan Omega-3 Vegan Supplement
Those who have watched the Netflix documentary Seaspiracy will know that omega-3s actually come from seaweed! Seaweed Omega 3 supplements are a more sustainable, vegan alternative to traditional omega-3 fish oils.
Sea Tangle Noodle Company Kelp Noodles
If you’re looking for a healthier, more sustainable noodle alternative, Kelp Noodles are a great option. Not only are they gluten free, fat-free and very low in carbohydrates, they’re also delicious in rice paper rolls, casseroles or in a warm, winter broth.
Seapoint Farms Seaweed Crisps:
These seaweed crisps from Seapoint Farms have a savoury crunch that makes them so very addicting. The pumpkin and sesame seed fillings add more flavour and some healthy fats to the snack, and you might find yourself constantly reaching for more – at least seaweed is a sustainable and healthy snack!
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