We have an abundance of local seaweed growing off the Pacific Northwest Coast. However, it’s not just a matter of heading out on a sunny day, at low tide and gathering. There is a lot to know about sustainable harvesting if we are to truly honor this mineral rich gift from the sea.
I just got back from a weekend of camping on Lopez Island, in the San Juan Islands, where I attended a workshop on harvesting, drying and cooking seaweed. The course, taught by Jennifer Adler, of Passionate Nutrition, was transformative in many ways. It included kayaking over an ancient kelp bed, gathering seaweed at low tide, learning seaweed nutrition and healing qualities, practicing sustainable harvesting methods, making kelp pickles and eating a variety of different seaweeds and local edible plants. Every single delectable dish was cooked by chef Zephyr Dunnicliffe using mostly her own recipes.
I highly recommend this workshop. Jennifer Adler has a gift for creating a relaxed environment where everyone feels completely welcome and included. People attending had a wide range of previous knowledge and physical abilities. Everyone was successful during all portions of the weekend.
If you are thinking about harvesting your own seaweed, I encourage you to take a course or learn from an experienced sustainable harvester. If you just tear the plant right off the rock, it will die, but if you know where to cut the fronds, the plant will survive and continue to provide rich greens from the sea indefinitely.
Jennifer provides her Seaweed 101 workshop three times every summer on Lopez Island in Washington State. The last one this summer is August 24-26.