Seaweed is a broad term that is used to describe and categorise marine plants and algae that grow in oceans and seas. Even though their growing popularity in the West is a relatively new phenomena, edible seaweeds have been consumed by coastal populations around the world throughout history.
Most notably, seaweed has been eaten in the Far East since ancient times, and remains a popular staple in Japan where it is used in soups and sushi. Closer to home in the UK, seaweed harvested from the rugged Welsh coastline forms the basis of a traditional dish called Laverbread.
In recent years, the global community of curious foodies, health conscious eaters and gourmet chefs have begun to recognise edible seaweeds as innovative additions to their diets and culinary repertoires. As well as being high in key vitamins, antioxidants, calcium, zinc and iodine, each individual variety of seaweed has a unique flavour profile.
In my quest to learn more about these nutritious slow foods harvested from the sea, I recently discovered an Edinburgh-based company called Mara who sell a range of Scottish seasonal seaweeds.
Mara was established in 2011 by wild food experts Fiona Houston and Alexandra (Xa) Milne as a way of bringing seaweed, a natural resource and one of Scotland’s forgotten foods, to modern consumers. The company produces a range of four varieties of dried, powdered seaweeds which can be used as tasty condiments, versatile seasonings, and low sodium alternatives to salt.
I spoke to Xa at this year’s Natural & Organic Products Europe show about Mara and their seaweeds. You can hear my interview with Xa by clicking on the play button below.