“Doctor Seaweed” pairs with “Oyster Lady” to spread the word about seaweed benefits
Doctor Craig Rose, also known as Doctor Seaweed, has started a social media conversation he calls #notweirdbutwonderful that he hopes will open up the fascinating world of seaweed to the general public.
“Seaweed is an incredibly healthy, sustainable and tasty food ingredient, and my vision is to see everyone enjoying and benefitting from it. There’s nothing weird about seaweed – it’s wonderful!” Rose told SeafoodSource.
A marine biologist working on "seaweedy things," Rose was managing an algal biofuels project that took him to the Outer Hebrides off Scotland several years ago, when he came across the Hebridean Seaweed Company (HSC) on the Isle of Lewis.
“This company harvests wild seaweed, which they turn into powders and liquid extracts for use mainly in the agriculture and cosmetic industries. I wanted to work with the sea, but I also had to pay the mortgage,” Rose said. “It was a bit of a lightbulb moment, realizing that there was huge potential to open up the seaweed market for human consumption, because seaweed contains an impressive range of minerals, trace elements, vitamin groups, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.”
He quickly reached an agreement whereby HSC would install his equipment for food grade production in their factory, and harvest and process the sustainable ascophyllum seaweed on behalf of Rose.
“And with that, my own company, Seaweed & Co. was born, along with my first products, which I called PureSea,” he said.
PureSea is a range of dried, milled seaweed that can be incorporated into almost any food, beverage or nutrition application.
“The PureSea range currently has three products, ‘Natural,’ which is great for salt replacement and flavor-boosting as well as being a nutritional dynamo; ‘Smoked,’ which offers the same benefits with superb smoky flavors; and ‘Protect,’ which is micro-encapsulated, taste- and odor-free, and is set for stardom in sports nutrition and health foods,” Rose said.
He explained that a further benefit is that the products are a good natural source of iodine, and therefore enable E.U. Approved Health Claims to be made.
“We are also getting involved in some exciting research projects about the benefits of eating seaweed, one of which has shown that is has huge potential for weight and blood sugar management,” said Rose.
Sales of PureSea have been going well, with the products snapped up by snack food manufacturers, ingredients distributors, and major supermarkets, and Rose is now pushing them into the foodservice sector.
With one success under his belt, Rose began to search for other products that consumers could engage with, and a year ago launched Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful, a range of natural and smoked seaweed infused culinary organic oils and essence, along with organic Scottish seaweed capsules. He explained that the inspiration for the oils grew out of a need to get seaweed into a format that is more understandable.
“Something, for example, that can be used to roast or fry with, to drizzle on scrambled eggs or salads, serve with sashimi, or drip decoratively around the plate," he said.
So far, Rose’s foray into the world of seaweed is garnering positive reactions in the retail world.
“I am delighted with the response to the oils, which have been snapped up by Planet Organic, Wholefoods Market, Holland & Barrett, and a growing number of independent farm shops and delicatessens. They were recently included in Sainsbury’s Taste of the Future range and will be on sale in Lakeland in 2020,” he said.
Rose’s latest venture is a collaboration with Katy Davidson, known as the Oyster Lady. Davidson has the same enthusiasm for oysters as Rose does for seaweed.
“When I met Katy a few months ago, I quickly realiaed that we shared a passion in wanting to get our products to mainstream audiences, and to help them rediscover forgotten foods in ways that modern consumers can love. I also discovered that the intense smoked seaweed infused oil goes really well with oysters,” said Rose.
The pair are now on a mission to promote it as the ‘new oyster essential’ and to generate enthusiasm with chefs and front-of-house staff. Together, they are working to create recipes, products and inspirational content, and Rose said he is delighted that feedback so far has been "overwhelmingly positive."
“It has been my life’s mission to show people just how delicious, healthy, and sustainable oysters are,” Davidson told SeafoodSource. “They are often maligned and misunderstood because of popular media and urban myth, so I’ve been working hard to encourage people to fall in love with them for some years now, through events and masterclasses. This is where I’ve seen the overwhelmingly positive response to the pairing with seaweed oil. It’s so exciting to be bringing together two such potent powerhouses of oceanic health and gastronomy.”
Rose is happy that his tie-in with the Oyster Lady has already seen his seaweed oil being used in some of the top oyster bars in London, but he has more ambitious plans.
“My wider vision is to see to see a bottle of intense oil on the table of every oyster bar in the world,” Rose said.