Friday, October 30, 2015
New Yorker - "A New Leaf: Could seaweed become the next superfood?"
"The ocean covers seventy per cent of the earth and produces less than two per cent of our food. To grow the rest, we use almost forty per cent of the world’s land and nearly three-quarters of our fresh water. “We haven’t begun to explore the ocean as a food source,” Mike Rust, an aquaculture scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told me. “If you want a glimpse of the future, the best one is Jules Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ ”—where Captain Nemo feeds his crew exclusively on food harvested from the ocean. Nearly half the world’s ocean-farmed product is seaweed. Most of the industry, which is worth some six billion dollars, is in Asia, where seaweed has long been welcome on the plate. “If you were to extrapolate one of those Asian seaweed farms, it becomes incredible pretty quickly,” Rust said. “You get speculative numbers, like, you could replace all agriculture with less than one per cent of the oceans’ surface area.”
Seaweed can be rich in protein, Vitamin B12, and trace minerals. Iodine and omega-3 fatty acids, which many seaweeds have in abundance, are essential for brain development; some researchers believe seaweed may have played a role in the rise of Homo sapiens. Archeologists have posited a “kelp highway,” to describe the coastal migration of the early Americans, some fourteen thousand years ago. Among modern Westerners, it has largely been treated as the food of last resort, a hedge against starvation that lingers nostalgically in corners of authentic cooking after the crisis wanes."