For the past 40 years, I’ve harvested alaria from the ledges around the Sally Islands which are within a three mile radius of my home on the coast of Maine. Here are some things I know about this seaweed:
- Alaria is the Atlantic cousin to Pacific wakame.
- Alaria is the most alkaline-forming food in my kitchen.
- Alaria has the highest calcium content of all the seaweeds I harvest.
- Alaria’s iodine content is moderate, suited to all blood types.
- If you want to prevent osteoporosis and protect your thyroid from radioactive iodine being released into the atmosphere and the food chain, eat three pounds per year. That’s just 3-4 grams per day.
- Your body is mostly water and it transacts with your food at the level of water. Learn to use wet recipes. Avoid roasting seaweeds because iodine is volatile, and you will lose it to the air. There are many good recipes at theseaweedman.com and additional soup recipes on this blog.
So long as I don’t harvest the deep perennial plants (spore stock), the annual form of the plant comes back in predictable quantities each year. These annuals are destroyed by winter ice storms. My apprentices and I have named the ledges where alaria grows according to the sustainable yields and/or the characteristics of the ledges: “Eastern Island was abundant with 120 bushels! In the Three Sisters Ledges, Cliff gave us 40! Haystack had 20! Placid surprised us with 30! Sally Island gave us 20! Ankle Twister gave us 15 bushels on a rough day! Old Woman was shorn of 8! Old Man had enough alaria whiskers for 6! Bonney Chess gave us 20, and the seals were curious and friendly!” Already my apprentices are letting me know that they want to come back next year and do it again. Paba could learn the work of crew leader from me and my son Jay who now works as an engineer, testing safety systems in cars. Paba has good strength, ambition, and humor. Home-schooled, she’s a free spirit and an independent learner. I miss her laughter.