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June 02, 2020 - South China Morning Post

Kelp Is Not the New Kale; It’s a Crop With Bigger Challenges, and Possibilities

Kelp Is Not the New Kale; It’s a Crop With Bigger Challenges, and Possibilities
KelpFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, people all over the country have been getting food delivered to them in new ways — from farms dropping produce shares on stoops to fine dining restaurants making contactless deliveries of groceries and prepared foods.

But in Portland, Maine at the end of April, residents opened their front doors to find boxes of fresh, local kelp. “Everyone gets excited about ramps, but kelp is really the first crop here,” said Josh Rogers, a local seaweed evangelist who owns the shop Heritage Seaweed and has his own line of seaweed teas, Cup of Sea.

Rogers is also behind Portland’s Seaweed Week, an annual kelp harvest festival that was set to include nearly 100 participating restaurants this year, including the popular, now national chain, Luke’s Lobster. COVID-19 stymied the celebration, but the kelp-to-quarantine boxes were a surprising success.

For several years, environmentalists and aquaculture advocates have been pushing Americans to eat more seaweed, touting it as a flavor and nutrition-packed food that as a crop, has an incredibly low environmental footprint and could even help mitigate climate change. The efforts led to substantial media coverage declaring “kelp as the new kale,” but actual adoption into the American diet has moved at a snail’s pace.

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South China Morning Post

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