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Is Seaweed the New Kale?

Food

Strewn along beaches in tangled clumps, seaweed tells the fractal tales of tides. Anchored in the water, they are an underwater melody. These algae are not just beautiful but also vital to the ocean’s well being; they are the base of the ocean’s food web and sea creatures need them for sustenance and protection. It’s also the ultimate super food for us.

Seaweed is high in vitamins, antioxidants, magnesium, iodine, omega 3's, iron and calcium.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Seaweed is naturally high in many vitamins and anti-oxidants and rich in magnesium, calcium and iron. It has iodine and omega 3’s in spades. In fact, it’s one of the most nutritious things you can eat. Recent studies show that it even helps with weight loss. Scientists found a compound in common seaweed could stop the body absorbing fat. Another recent study found women who eat seaweed while pregnant, give birth to better future readers.

These saline vegetables have fertilized crops, been used as a growing medium and saved populations from disease and hunger. Yet have been very under-utilized. But now they are coming into their own. Some of the most interesting chefs around are highlighting them on their menus, and using them for everything from cocktails to appetizers, salads, breads and main courses. Seaweed is being touted as the “new kale.” People are finding it a delicious way to make creative dishes with an added “umami” or depth.

Some easy ways to use it are creating a stir-fry with sliced seaweed, fresh ginger and sesame oil. For a delicious dashi broth make a simple combination of kombu, bonita flakes and shiitake mushrooms. Use this broth as a base for soups, and braise vegetables or seafood with it. If you ferment, add seaweed to your kimchi or sauerkraut. Mix it with lentils for a veggie burger and put it on a grill. You can make a pesto from seaweed to toss with soba noodles or use as a sauce for squash. On the British Isles, it’s used in breads, like lavar and some seaweeds creates the binding agent for puddings. Also, it’s pretty amazing mixed with butter. Let them sit together in the refrigerator, and a savory umami flavor infuses through it. Use it to top roasted vegetables or smear it on bread.

So eat your way all the way down the food web, and harvest or buy the sea vegetables swaying in the current. All you need is a low tide and sense of adventure.

 

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.