The Ocean’s Superfood

3D ocean farms produce a variety of foods, and that’s terrific. But the star of the show is kelp. If there was ever a superfood, kelp is it.

Kelp and other seaweeds that people can eat are incredibly nutritious. These sea veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s. (Omega-3s are some of the healthy nutrients that people get from eating fish. But you know where fish get it? From eating seaweed!)

Kelp has other amazing benefits. It’s what Smith calls a zero-input food. You don’t have to add, or input, anything to it. It doesn’t need fertilizer, pesticides, or fresh water. The ocean and sunlight provide everything kelp needs.

There’s more. You may know that the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas pumps a lot of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. All that CO2 leads to changing climates and an overall warming planet. A lot of the CO2 ends up in the ocean where it makes the water more acidic. It’s not like the ocean becomes a mega pool of bubbling acid, but the greater acidity does harm some wildlife. Shellfish, for example, grow thinner, weaker shells.

Kelp rolls are just one of many dishes that are made with kelp.

Bren Smith harvests kelp from his ocean farm.

Seaweed to the rescue! Kelp absorbs, or takes in, CO2 as it grows, just like land plants absorb CO2 from the air. So, the more kelp that ocean farmers grow, the less acidic the ocean becomes. That’s good news.

So is this: Seaweed farms are a boost to the economy. Orders for kelp and other seaweeds are on the increase from restaurants, schools, company cafeterias, and grocery stores. The growing demand means more and more people can get into the ocean farming business and make a decent living.

Bren Smith helped create an organization called GreenWave to do just that. GreenWave trains people and helps them get set up with their own ocean farms. It even guarantees to buy most of their crop for the first two years so they know they’ll be able to sell what they grow.

Thousands of people have contacted Smith for his help. In fact, he’s had requests to help start 3D farms in every coastal state in the United States and in 25 countries around the world. Word is spreading as quickly as kelp grows!

Okay, so kelp does a lot of wonderful things, but you probably have been asking yourself one big question: How does it taste?

Bren Smith helps prepare kelp for eating.

Tastes Like the Ocean

That’s how most fans of sea veggies describe the flavor of kelp and other seaweeds. Some of these sea veggies, like sugar kelp, are very mild. They may have just a hint of saltiness, like the ocean air. A mild flavor makes it easy to add kelp to a variety of dishes, like soups, salads, beans, rice, mixed vegetables, and pizza. Seaweed smoothies are a growing favorite.

Smith slices his kelp into noodles and sells them. Other seaweeds are sold as flakes or powders, which can be sprinkled on anything from soups to peanut butter sandwiches, for a boost of flavor and nutrition.

Some seaweeds are a bit fishier than sugar kelp, with a flavor closer to tuna. Other seaweeds have a savory taste, like meat or mushrooms. No matter the flavor, though, cooks all across the land are discovering that seaweed adds a delightful taste of the ocean to their favorite foods.

Good for food, good for the planet, good for business, and fantastic nutrition… No wonder seaweed is the ocean’s supercrop!

a bowl of kelp ready for eating