Wild Foods

Product Development

Wild foods and foraging for them as a food source may initially be thought to be associated with land. However, Ireland has had a rich tradition of collecting and using edible seaweed in meal preparation along its coastal towns and hinterlands since Mesolithic times.

Edible seaweed is more commonly known as “sea vegetables.” As a foraged food, it provided sustenance and nutrition for coastal communities. These communities were often on the margins of society, as recorded in prose from the twelfth century when monks regularly foraged for Dillisk on the shorelines and apportioned this to impoverished local communities. Monks may not have had the scientific and nutritional knowledge of edible seaweed's rich minerals and nutrient content and its positive health benefits, as we now know. During the “Great Famine” in Ireland 1845-1849, access to the shoreline and collecting edible seaweed was seen as an act of great desperation, and this stigma has stuck through some generations. Understanding the importance of wild food in our forebears' diet and the array of food they had access to can deepen our connection to our heritage and the land we inhabit.

The health benefits of edible seaweeds are not just a part of folklore but have been substantiated by academic and research writings. For instance, bladderwrack and its use in the treatment of skin ailments. The nutritional value of edible seaweed is also noteworthy, with its superior vitamin, trace element, and protein content. These findings provide compelling reasons to champion wild foods and their beneficial attributes. They also serve as a reminder of the wealth of natural resources Ireland offers.

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