Recently, I interviewed someone from the Island of Orkney, off the northern shore of Scotland. He described the seas as being nutrient rich and crystal clear. Traditionally, sea weed, (called sea vegetables in Scotland) has been used for herbal remedies, food products, animal food, cosmetics, and fertilizers.
Two of the major species I was informed of were Laminaria, and Carrageen Chondrus crispus (Irish moss). Laminaria, (commonly called “kelp”) has it has the ability to re-growth extremely fast, making it an almost infinitely sustainable crop. Auxins, gibberellins and cytokinins exist in large amounts, which are used for animal food supplements.
Laminaria is the main seaweed used in Scotland, but Red-weed, green-weed, purple-weed, and pinkweed each with its own unique benefits. The various species are used for health products, cosmetics and natural fertilizers for gardens. The seaweed is currently used for animal and human consumption. Red seaweed gel is used for respiratory problems in animals, (particularly horses), and green seaweed gel, is used as an animal food supplement for growth and minerals. For human consumption, Red seaweed extract is used as a general tonic and Red seaweed beautifying cream and a seaweed skin rub for sports people. An interesting fact is that Orkney Gold’s Seaweed Supreme won The Scottish Food Award in 1995 and 1996. It is made of different flavored kelp dips which can be substituted for tartar sauce, horse radish, mint sauce, dips for French fries, spread for sandwiches and salad dressings.
The old Norse word for seaweed is ‘tang’ and ‘gathering ther tangs’, as it used to wash up on the beaches after each winter storm. It was also the only form of land nutrition available to the crofters and early farmers. It was used to aid the crops and livestock they produced on land. Various species were once used in local herbal remedies and medicines (especially Laminaria and carrageen), and the sheep and cattle were fed on them during famine. The old resources are slowly being brought back into use, as they are seen in Scotland as natural and environmentally safe.