seaweed.saladI met a family at New Brighton Park hauling in Laminaria, an edible seaweed called Kombu  in Japan and dashima in Korea. Through a bit of sign language I figured out it was on their grocery list but I couldn't get my point across that it might not be a good idea to eat seaweed washed up next to the freighters in the Burrard Inlet. 

The first time I ate kombu (sounds tastier than  Laminariaceae) was about ten years ago at Sooke Harbour House--so ahead of their time. Diane Bernard AKA the Seaweed Lady took me on a seaweed harvesting tour and Chef Edward Tuson served a few seaweed courses that night (I later wrote about Bernard for Western Living Magazine).

Anyway, I wanted to tell this family that the Kombu washed up on this shore might look like lasagna sheets but the basic rule when harvesting any edibles, be they wild mushrooms or marine plants, is to err on the side of caution.


  Ulva lactuca, or sea lettuce, is the most recognizable by its brilliant green colour, almost transulcent, and most accessible of the seaweeds. You see it washed up on shore and just about anywhere in the high-tide zone. I vaguely remember its crisp, grassy taste, vaguely reminiscent of peas in chef Tuson's tri-colour seaweed salad.  

Closer to home I've foraged Ulva for my compost. Seaweed absorbs pollutants such as lead and mercury just as readily as nutrients,  so avoid picking near marinas, residential areas and parking lots located close to shore. And avoid anywhere in and around Vancouver and even worse, Victoria.