Seaweed is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet; the Japanese credit their health and longevity to their large-scale consumption of sea vegetables. Seaweed contains more vitamins and minerals than anything grown on land, including a good dose of B vitamins, iodine, antioxidants, fatty acids, calcium and fibre. It’s also a forager’s friend – all forms of seaweed are technically edible, though some are harder to digest or not that palatable.
In New South Wales, you can gather up to 20 kilos of seaweed as long as it’s for personal use and isn’t attached to a rock or still growing. If you find it on the beach, it’s fair game – use your nose and your eyes to see whether it’s too decayed to take home. You should always give it a really good wash when you get home – particularly if you’re gathering from a popular beach. You should also consider where you’re getting it from in terms of areas of high toxicity, though only one study has ever found toxic levels of heavy metals in seaweed harvests.
There are three types of seaweed: red, brown, and green. There are plenty of kelp forests around Sydney and if you get lucky, you might find some wakame (the seaweed salad you get in most sushi places).
If you aren’t sure about eating your slimy harvest, it makes absolutely fantastic fertiliser – our plants absorb what’s in their soil, so mineral and vitamin rich soil is going to produce more nutritious vegetables and fruit. Seasol, one of the most popular gardening solutions, is made from seaweed. Spread it around underneath your soil, and it’ll break down and feed the roots. For existing gardens, put it in a watering can and let it break down into a seaweed tea – when it stops smelling awful, that’s when it’s ready.