[USA] About five years ago, Catherine O’Hare started harvesting seaweed on the California coast as a hobby. Using just a pair of scissors and her hands, she collected bits of kelp that she’d take home, dry and use in broths and crumble on dishes as seasoning. Growing up by the ocean in Southern California, O’Hare was naturally drawn to the water, and after graduating from college, she worked on farms. Employed by a small food business at the time, she missed her days of being outdoors and having a more hands-on role in the food system. So when she was taken seaweed harvesting in Sonoma County for the first time she recalls that “it was a formative experience.”
O’Hare was so drawn to the activity, she got a fishing license and was soon regularly gathering seaweed on weekends. She became familiar with the different varieties, how to cook with them, along with their nutritional benefits. But in those early days, she had no inkling that her pastime of collecting salty, savory sea tangles would become Salt Point Seaweed, a business she’d start with two like-minded friends.
Those two friends are Tessa Emmer and Avery Resor. O’Hare studied biology at Oberlin College, where she met Emmer, and Emmer and Resor connected at a Masters of Development program at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources. Emmer and Resor had traveled to East Africa, where they learned how aquafarmers in Zanzibar had created a sustainable alternative to the dying fishing industry by growing and selling seaweed. The abundant and regenerative resource not only produces a nutrient-rich food source without land or fresh water, but helps to fight the effects of climate change, too.
The three women, now all living in the East Bay, were convinced by the health and environmental benefits of seaweed. They wondered how they could bring sustainable aquaculture to California. Although native seaweed is abundant along the California coast, and despite the growing consumption of seaweed across the nation, there are only a handful of California harvesting operations. More than 90% of the seaweed we eat is imported from large commercial operations in Japan and Korea.
Photo: Salt Point Seaweed harvests seaweed by cutting off pieces but leaving a margin to regenerate. Here Reba Hsu, one of the company’s helper-harvesters, gathers native California kombu. Photo: Salt Point Seaweed
View original article at: This Oakland wild harvested seaweed company makes a case for sustainable aquafarming in California
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