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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Collecting Sea Palms: Planning for Sustainable Use in a Variable Environment


Up until recently, few in mainstream America ate seaweed, or wanted to. Edible seaweed was a concept relegated to, for all practical purposes, Asian and Native American cultures and cuisines. Times have changed. Today, bulk bins at health food stores overflow with kombu, nori, wakame, dulse and all sorts of other kinds of “sea vegetables,” while high- end vegetarian restaurants offer entrées as innovative (and unexpected) as seaweed strudel.

The allure for health-conscious Americans is obvious: seaweeds are high in iodine, iron, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, copper and zinc, as well as vitamins A, B, C, E and K. They are low in calories, and low on the food chain. Although not technically plants, in most people’s minds, seaweed counts toward the “fruits and vegetables” part of the food pyramid.

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