Is seaweed the new kale? It’s proven to be both a superfood and a promising industry for Ireland. Just ask Noel Lee.

Five years ago Noel Lee started the Connemara Seaweed Company. He says it’s always been a healthy part of cooking in Ireland, but now, word of its health value and promising nutrients is spreading far and wide.

Noel Lee of the Connemara Seaweed Company

Noel Lee of the Connemara Seaweed Company

“We have used it here for centuries, some even credit seaweed as saving lives during the famine. But we use it in stews and soups more to add nutrients and a healthful boost than flavor,” Lee says.

Read more: What Irish superfoods should you be eating in Ireland?

He now employs ten harvesters at the Connemara Seaweed Company. They collect 13 different varieties, that are rinsed, dried on racks and milled into seasonings. It is the simplest of processing plants and demand for what it turns out is skyrocketing.

Poster of varieties of seaweed.

Poster of varieties of seaweed.

We process about a ton a day now,” Lee says. “That’s a ton wet. But seaweed is 90% water so of that ton, we get about 130 kilos dry.”

Read more: Learn about the health benefits of Irish moss

It takes 20 hours at a low temperature to dry out the crop and maintain it’s an abundance of health benefits. Some varieties are known for their taste, others as a means of soothing a cough, or improving your diet. And it finding it’s way to restaurants and kitchens all across Ireland and Europe.

Drying racks at the Connemara Seaweed Company

Drying racks at the Connemara Seaweed Company

“Germany, France, Spain, and Portugal are buying a lot,” Lee says. “It hasn’t caught on yet in the United States but more and more Americans coming here are picking it up and taking it home with them.”

It’s a superfood with a super future. Like Kale, but more versatile, cheaper to produce and it packs in nutrients and minerals beyond what kale has been touted as supplying.

On the shelf in Galway.

On the shelf in Galway.

The Connemara Seaweed Company is located in Rossaveal, which is on the west coast, not far from Galway. You can find Noel Lee there most days. You can find the Connemara Seaweed Company’s products at McCambridge’s in Galway, in most Irish supermarkets and online. Visit www.ConnemaraSeaweedCompany.ie for more information.  

And you can hear Noel Lee talk about his process and his seaweed in Episode 31 of Erin’s Isle on www.erinmeehanbreen.com.

Read more: St. Patrick's 5th century Irish diet revealed

Throughout June, IrishCentral is celebrating Irish food! You can follow the whole story on social media by searching for #FoodMyMammyMade and #ICFood. You can keep up to date with all our Food and Drink stories here or never miss a recipe by checking out our dedicated topic page here.

This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.

Seaweed, it's a natural in Ireland.ErinMeehanBreen.com