Seaweeds get a bad rap in the States. But, in fact, the way we imagine seaweed in the most renowned “wrap” (that is, sushi) is not authentically Japanese at all. Rather, it’s the response to neophobic Westerners’ fear of this harmless, actually very helpful, plant. You see, sushi is traditionally made with seaweed on the outside. Exposed. But Westerners were too skeptical and so clever sushi chefs migrating to the US decided to inverse the order to appeal to American clients.
Yet even the name—seaweed—connotes something dirty, unwanted. But the fact is that “weeds,” terrestrial or aquatic, are incredibly nutritious. It just so happens that “weeds” (or, better, wild plants) are resilient, growing spontaneously along ecological edges of constant change. They bring vitality and nourishment to otherwise lifeless or chaotic territory. And, of course, what is more dynamic than the sea? Seaweeds grow in aquatic “edges,” intertidal zones where the flow of waters and nutrients create an ideal spawning ground for these marine plants. In return, seaweeds provide their environments with an abundance of nutrients, habitats, and dissolved oxygen. For us humans, they provide proven health benefits, and what’s more, they don’t require extensive inputs like most terrestrial agriculture. They are wild plants that grows easily and abundantly, so there is minimal risk of over-harvesting.
Seaweed has been a nutritional staple of Asian cuisines for millenia but it is only recently catching on in the Western diet. It offers us a bounty of antioxidants, iodine, vitamins A and C, amongst other nutrients. This brief slideshow will give you an idea of how to introduce this miracle plant into your diet, and explain the manifold rewards of this wonderful “weed.” Please note that when buying seaweed, dried or fresh, local or imported, you should verify that your source is clean and not contaminated with lead, radioactive iodides, or other contaminants. All sources provided below are guaranteed, but if you are curious about suppliers in your area DO YOUR RESEARCH and ASK YOUR SUPPLIERS! Seaweed is an unprecedentedly powerful health food, but like all foods, you should know where it comes from and how it is produced. For the US, by far the best seaweed cultivators are at the Mendocino Ocean Harvest Sea Vegetable Company. For dried seaweeds, Eden Foods is your safest and most responsible bet.