Sustainable Pacific Northwest-based seaweed harvester Amanda Swinimer describes the ecology, culinary uses, evidence-based health benefits and climate change-resisting potential of seaweed and shares highlights from her remarkable life beneath the waves.
Related to the most ancient living organisms on earth, seaweeds are incredible and unique life forms, sharing qualities with both plants and animals, as well as fungi. They have been prized as a nutrient-dense food source for millennia and contain essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, protein and fibre as well as biologically active compounds not found anywhere else in nature. Seaweeds are also a source for innovations combating climate change due in part to their ability to absorb massive quantities of carbon dioxide.
Based in the Pacific Northwest, home to the greatest cold-water seaweed diversity in the world, Amanda Swinimer has made her living from the sustainable harvest of seaweeds for over two decades. In The Science and Spirit of Seaweed, Swinimer reflects on the journey that led to her successful seaweed harvesting business and provides identification information, ecologically sound harvesting techniques, traditional medicinal application and evidence-based health information for more than twenty varieties of seaweeds commonly found from California to Alaska. She also includes notes on culinary and skin-care uses for several types of seaweeds.
Complemented by vibrant underwater photography, beautiful illustrations and chef-inspired recipes, this volume richly conveys the benefits and wonder of living in harmony with the ocean. It will be a welcome resource to beachcombers, foragers and anyone fascinated by the marvels of the natural world.
About the author
Amanda Swinimer (BSc), aka “Mermaid of the Pacific”, hand harvests wild seaweed from the beaches and kelp forests of the Salish Sea for her business, Dakini Tidal Wilds. She also conducts seaweed tours and gives presentations on seaweed to school children and audiences of all ages, passing on her knowledge about ocean ecology and the nutritional benefits of seaweed. She is the author of The Science and Spirit of Seaweed: Discovering Food, Medicine and Purpose in the Kelp Forests of the Pacific Northwest. She lives on the west coast of Vancouver Island with her two daughters.
"This tour through Amanda Swinimer’s Mermaid Garden ebbs and flows through seaweed fact and the author’s fantasies and reminiscences, punctuated by Chris Adair’s surreal photos of Amanda suspended mid-water. Red, green and brown seaweeds are described with culinary, health and spa anecdotes. Thirty pages are dedicated to "Seaweed & Health," where the promise of seaweed in the treatment and prevention of diseases, many associated with aging, is explored (this section is neatly referenced). Fitting to Amanda’s sprinkling of ecological concern throughout the book, is the section on "Algae: A Global Perspective." Here we glimpse the role of seaweeds in moderating our abused environment and being the prime producer energizing the coastal ecosystem. The recipes are a pleasure. They are original. Many are provided by featured chefs. Swinimer has created a delightful, readable, informative and richly illustrated resource on seaweeds that I highly recommend."
Louis Druehl, author of <i>Pacific Seaweeds: A Guide to Common Seaweeds of the West Coast</i>
"This beautifully written book is an irresistible and unique fusion of practical field guide, personal memoir and warm wisdom of how to live well in a home place. A wonderful ramble through the world of seaweeds from basic identification and natural science to culinary uses and medicine, Amanda’s creation brings us into her sphere by melding science, love and reverence in an inspiring ode to these humble but magnificent species."
Fiona Hamersley Chambers, ethnobotanist and owner of Metchosin Farm
"This beautiful book will appeal to poets and photographers as surely as it will to scientists, dreamers, harvesters and beachwalkers–every page opening a little window to the soul of the sea and all that dwells within. A timely salute to the synergy between man, ocean, plant, animal, place, spirit and science."
Prannie Rhatigan, author of <i>Irish Seaweed Kitchen</i>