Kelp jerky saves fishermen
The spread of Japanese food around the world has increased awareness of broth made from kelp. In Japan, kelp is one of the ingredients that has been common since long ago and is used in various ways, such as eating boiled or raw, in addition to making broth.
Today, the kelp is attracting attention as a sustainable food resource in the United States. AKUA, a startup company, is leading its promotion. A new high-protein jerky, mixing with shiitake, nori, turmeric, and spirulina, with kelp as a base, that vegetarians also can eat is sold. Some appreciate the jerky as, “It can replace popcorn for watching movies,” and the product was selected as one of the TIME magazine’s Best Inventions 2019.
TIME chose it as the “invention” because it focused on the sustainability of kelp in addition to its high nutritional value. According to AKUA, “a zero-input crop,” that does not require to take in carbon and nitrogen and does not need external resources such as fresh water, fertilizer or feed, improve the quality of water.
In addition, the sustainability of kelp also affects people’s jobs. All the kelp used by the company is ocean-farmed. For fishermen running traditional fisheries threatened by climate and currents, ocean-farmed kelp makes a stable income. According to an article by New York Times on the situation of kelp in the United States linked to the company’s website, many fish farmers in the north part of the East Coast of Maine, where AKUA sources materials, are lobster fishermen. For those who fish in summer, the kelp farming that is processed in winter is a good match. The fact that they are familiar with the tides in the bay and that they already have all the necessary stuff for farming, such as boats, ropes and buoys, has also encouraged fishermen to enter the ocean-farm industry. The article also explains that Maine’s cod, shrimp and sea urchin catch is decreasing and that lobsters become expensive since there has been a huge decline in the herring, making the business difficult. The difficulties of fisheries due to climate change seems to be a common challenge for each country.
By the way, AKUA has developed kelp pasta besides jerky. In March, the company will launch a new sweet snack that promotes digestion focused on intestinal health. From a different perspective than Japanese “dashi,” American kelp will attract more and more attention.