A seaweed a day keeps the doctor away?

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Sally and John McKenna on the coast of Ireland. Photo by Tori Lock

By Tori Lock

Who would have ever thought to pick up a sliver of seaweed off the sandy beach and take a bite of it? Whoever it was had the right idea.

“Because it can be a little scary laying out there on the beach, people don’t think its edible,” said Sally McKenna, co-creator of the travel and food books, McKenna’s Guide, and author of Extreme Greens: Understanding Seaweeds.

What has become a phenomenon in the health food industry today has been used in culinary creations since the famine in Ireland and before, according to McKenna.

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Fresh Carrageen. Photo by Tori Lock

The Irish mainly use 10 seaweed varieties found in the waters that surround the island including Dulse (Palmaria palmate), Carrageen (Chondrus crispus) and Kelp (Laminaria digitate). Although seaweed may not be the main course or taste in the meal, it provides a great background flavor. With that kick of extra flavor comes essential vitamins and minerals.

According to Slow Food Ireland, properties of seaweed include:

– twice as much Vitamin C as orange juice

– 10 times more calcium than cow’s milk

– 50 times more iron than spinach

– anti viral, anti bacterial and anti fungal

– minerals that contain all trace elements and energy needed for human life and health

Sea plants also have properties that reduce food cravings, block fat absorption in the body, cleanse blood and stimulate human immune systems, slowfoodireland.com said.

As for those who harvest it, the seaweed business can be a dangerous one. The wild Atlantic, as locals refer to it, has tides that come in at over 30 mph. According to the McKenna’s there are around five harvesters in Ireland who have been doing it for generations. They are highly respected for the hazardous work they do and the superfood they provide.

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John McKenna with a piece of sea lettuce. Photo by Tori Lock

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Filed under MU School of Journalism, Science ad Agricultual Journalism

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