Imagine, leaning into your fridge and pushing past the pressed-tofu and Gardein Chick’n to pull out some delicious, delicate and salty wakame seaweed add to your steaming ramen bowl for lunch. This may seem far-fetched for plenty of plantbased home cooks, but Cascadia Seaweed wants to make this the standard for the environmentally-conscious consumer.
Vancouver Island-based Cascadia Seaweed is looking to the future with this vision in mind. The company recently presented its plans for the next year of operations, which was highlighted by their commitment to shifting from being an ingredient supplier to a consumer packaged food product operation.
More Plantbased for Your Pantry
So what exactly does this mean for the plant-based food brand? Cascadia Seaweed is planning to unveil a direct-to-consumer product line in the coming months, in addition to a campaign to educate the public on cooking tips and health benefits of seaweed.
These products will come in many forms, including fresh, frozen, and dried snacks – which already have a loyal following due to its popularity in the Asian market, which has seen significant crossover to North America in recent years. Seaweed products are a natural source of protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants, which can be consumed as an essential oil in addition to a variety of food products.
They plan to scale up their ocean operations by ten times this year and are building a land-based facility where seaweed will be grown in tanks. “The timing is right,” says CEO Mike Williamson. “The future of humanity depends on a wave of change, and farming seaweed provides an opportunity to help revitalize human health, improve coastal communities and heal the earth.”
Sustainability Under the Surface
Part of what makes the brand’s vision so sustainable is Cascadia’s plans for BC-based production. According to the company, over 8,000 tonnes of seaweed was imported to North America in 2019. By replacing the need to import by building both ocean-bound kelp beds and indoor growing facilities they are improving future food security, creating jobs, and promoting growth in sustainable plant-based proteins.
Seaweed cultivation is low-impact on its environment, requiring no freshwater, fertilizers, or pesticides to grow, and creates habitat for a wide range of aquatic life during its winter growing season.
Part of the company’s success has been through partnerships with local First Nations. This leverages the knowledge and wisdom of these Nations who have been consuming seaweed since time immemorial – while also providing employment and business development opportunities.
Even though the BC seaweed industry is small by global standards, there is an immense opportunity for growth. Look for BC-grown options the next time you are in search of that perfectly-salted seaweed snack, ask about sourcing at local plantbased restaurants, or learn how to mix seaweed into your plant-based cooking repertoire!
- Helen Siwak is passionate about plantbased culinary, promoting a vegan lifestyle, shopping secondhand, and supporting eco-activists. Her plate is full as founder and president of EcoLuxLuv Comms (Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, EcoLuxLifestyle.co). | [email protected].
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