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This underwater farmer wants us to eat more kelp

November 20, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Seaweed could help both food security and the environment. Meet one pioneer putting kelp on plates and Rathlin Island on the map.

The waters around Rathlin Island, population 150, are swimming in kelp.

Something of a wonder crop, gram for gram, kelp and other seaweeds have as much protein as beef and are one of few non-animal sources of Vitamin B12 (which helps to make DNA and keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy).

Harnessing seaweed's untapped potential could aid both food security and the fight against the climate crisis, says the United Nations, while providing a habitat that nurtures biodiversity.

She is the founder of Islander Rathlin Kelp, which farms kelp and turns it into a range of food products.

Burns, whose family is from Rathlin, realized the island's surrounding waters are ideal for kelp.

Maintaining a constant temperature between around 7 to 12 degrees Celsius (44 to 54 Fahrenheit), the nutrient-rich waters allow Islander Kelp to farm year-round and grow about 50 tons annually, she says.

Islander Kelp has 15 to 20 ropes deployed at any one time, each bearing around a ton of kelp along their 330-feet length.

"Farmed kelp isn't cheap . . .

The industry has plenty of room for growth, she suggests: "It's surprising how much chefs and people talk about seaweed -- 'the new food' -- but when you look for it in menus or . . .

Elisa Capuzzo, senior ecosystem scientist at the UK government's Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), tells CNN that many people are still unfamiliar with seaweed as a food.

Capuzzo says more research is also required into the industry's effect on nature.

"We, as a small community here, have done something amazing, and we've proved it can work under the most challenging circumstances with very little resources," Burns says.

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