The Hands That Feed You: Kacie Loparto, She Sells Seaweeds
Posted by denisegoitia | Filed under The Hands that Feed You
Kacie Loparto grew up on the coast of Rhode Island. She recalls eating lots of seafood harvested by her dad, a lobsterman and quhog-harvester. After attending Warren Wilson College in North Carolina where she worked on the herb crew, Kacie married her love of the sea with her interest in medicinal plants.
She began harvesting seaweeds in 2007 as an apprentice for the Maine Seaweed Company. In 2009, Kacie created She Sells Seaweeds. Last year, Kacie began harvesting on the California coast. She has worked with several seasoned harvesters who share from their wealth of knowledge and experience.
As described on her blog: “We harvest in harmony with the tides. The tides are the lowest around the new and full moon. This is when we harvest. We throw on our wetsuits just before sunrise. With our knives and about 35 bushel baskets, we head out to the middle of the bay maneuvering around islands and ridges to familiar beds of seaweeds. With the seals and seabirds as onlookers we spend just a few hours cutting back the seaweeds from the rocks; our bodies heating up as we go.”
Kacie believes deeply in the nourishing, protective, and healing properties of seaweeds. She eats a little seaweed every day. Sea palm (Postelsia palmaeformis), only found in the Pacific Northwest, is one of her favorites because of its noodle-like texture. Sea palm can be re-hydrated as a pasta substitute or toasted and combined with almonds as a trail-mix.
Like many ethical seaweed harvesters who rely on this work for their livelihood, Kacie is concerned about pollution from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants. After testing her seaweeds last year, no irregularities were detected. As the new season begins (late May to August), her seaweeds will continue to be tested. Kacie believes in the integrity of the seaweeding community, largely a group of conscientious healers. While many questions still remain, the small size of the community and the healthy network of communication allows harvesters to share information easily as it emerges.
According to Kacie, a daily dose of 3-4 inches of a kombu strip in miso soup or other broth provides enough iodine to nourish the thyroid. Because iodine is so readily absorbed, consuming healthy sources of iodine can protect the body from the uptake of radioactive iodine.
Three Stone Hearth has purchased sea palm, wakame, and kombu from She Sells Seaweeds, which we are using in krauts, seaweed salads, and to cook our legumes. All the seaweeds we have used and purchased so far were harvested before the Fukushima Daiichi melt-down.