Humans have a long history of cultivating seaweeds for their use. In recent years, seaweed farming has become a global agricultural practice, providing food, source material for various chemical uses, cattle feeds and fertilizers. Because of their importance in marine ecologies and for absorbing carbon dioxide, recent attention has been on cultivating seaweed as a potential climate change mitigation strategy for bio sequestration of carbon dioxide, along side other benefits like nutrients pollution reduction, increased habitat for coastal aquatic species, and reducing local ocean acidification. “Seaweed” is the common name for countless species of marine plants and algae that grow in the ocean as well as in rivers, lakes, and other water bodies.
Some seaweeds are microscopic, such as the phytoplankton that live suspended in the water column and provide the base for most marine food chains. Some are enormous, like the giant kelp that grow in abundant “forests” and tower like underwater redwoods from their roots at the bottom of the sea. Most are medium-sized, come in colors of red, green, brown, and black, and randomly wash up on beaches and shorelines just about everywhere.
USES OF SEAWEED:
FOOD: Seaweed is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and can be tasty. For at least 1,500 years, the Japanese have enrobed a mixture of raw fish, sticky rice, and other ingredients in a seaweed called nori. The delectable result is a sushi roll.
MEDICATION: Many seaweeds contain anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agents. Their known medicinal effects have been legion for thousands of years; the ancient Romans used them to treat wounds, burns, and rashes. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the ancient Egyptians may have used them as a treatment for breast cancer. Certain seaweeds do, in fact, possess powerful cancer-fighting agents that researchers hope will eventually prove effective in the treatment of malignant tumors and leukemia in people. While dietary soy was long credited for the low rate of cancer in Japan, this indicator of robust health is now attributed to dietary seaweed.
COSMETIC PRODUCTION: These versatile marine plants and algae have also contributed to economic growth. Among their many uses in manufacturing, they are effective binding agents (emulsifiers) in such commercial goods as toothpaste and fruit jelly, and popular softeners (emollients) in organic cosmetics and skin-care products.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Ocean afforestation is a proposal for farming seaweed for carbon removal. After harvesting the seaweed decomposes into biogas, (60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide) in a biofuel, while the carbon dioxide can be stored to keep it from the atmosphere.
OTHER USES: Seaweed may be used as fertilizer, compost for landscaping or to combat beach erosion through burial in beach dunes. Seaweed is under consideration as a potential source of bioethanol.
TYPES OF EDIBLE SEAWEED:
- Green Seaweed
- Brown Seaweed
- Red Seaweed
SEAWEED PRODUCTION: As of 2018, the top 10 countries produced 96% of the global total of 2,165,675 metric tons.
|THOUSAND METRIC TONS PER YEAR
While the nutrition content of seaweed varies based on where it grows and what type it is, they all contain a healthy vitamin and mineral profile. Most seaweeds contain nutrients such as:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Seaweed contains many antioxidants in the form of certain vitamins (A, C, and E) and protective pigments. It has a decent amount of iodine, a trace mineral vital for the health and function of the thyroid. Some seaweeds, such as purple laver, contain a good amount of B12 as well.
A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed,
the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean.
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