Obsessed with fad foods from afar, we stockpile goji, aloe, guarana and quinoa from the ends of the earth whilst seaweeds, packed with nutrients and vitamins, are abundantly available on our doorstep.
In these modern carbon footprint days of consciousness, summoning foods from great distances in search of nutritional value no superior to equivalent and sustainable foods on our doorstep is, to be diplomatic, questionable.
I’m luvin’ it
But they make the kitchen look nice, the cook informed, the household free of consumer mediocrity and, most importantly, Tesco bring it direct to the door. You shop, we drop. Freshly clicked. Taste the difference. I’m luvin’ it.
A goji-quinoa purchase is the advertising executive’s powerpoint presentation moment of nirvana. We are his Key Performance Indicator. His Point of Purchase, his demographic and consumer demand. We are his bonus and pay rise all in one. We are suckers.
There is more shoreline in West Scotland alone than on all France’s coasts combined. During storms seaweed is wantonly throwing itself ashore with desperate abandon in a plea to be noticed.
Seaweed is conducting a high impact advertising campaign of its own. It stars itself in its very own production daily, if only one ventures to the shoreline to see.
Pop under the sea surface and you’ll witness dark kelp forests growing interspersed with wide sun-lit open expanses, where low growing manicured lime-green sea lettuce grows beside exposed golden-white sandy knolls and gullies.
Seaweed provides a seascape movie-set backdrop, a playground for puppy-faced seals gliding, bending and darting smoothly between the tall-standing kelp.
The seals dive low and twist over the sandy bottom in playful and lunging bursts — they are inquisitive, sleek, beautiful and shy.
Extras on set
The seals are fascinated as to who are the scuba-masked strangers in their domain.
By all accounts we should be a scary site — we are hunters and carnivores, made apparent by the position of our eyes at the front of our head giving us pinpoint focus of our quarry. A herbivore, by comparison, usually prey to such myopia, has eyes on the sides of its head so as to see approaching danger all around.
Nevertheless, these extras on set are unperturbed, nosy, fascinated. Perhaps paid danger money.
If one looks at seals directly they dart, as if with stage-fright. If the same diver acts coy and looks away they approach. It is a playful game of cat and mouse. With backs turned they approach to within ten feet but, as faces are shown, they dart swiftly behind the high rising kelp, the wings of this stage production.
On the surface the seals approach with just head, whiskers and large dark eyes visible, like puppy dogs learning to swim. As soon as the face of a dive-mask is shown they duck under, sometimes with a leap above the surface, but always to disappear below.
Meanwhile anither surfaces behind, their enthusiastic inquisition is tireless and infectious.
If one breaks all the rules and holds out a fish however…
At this point in the advert the voice-over dutifully mentions the product attributes, aware the seals may steal the show:
“And growing in the sea, seaweed naturally absorbs many minerals and contains many vitamins”
Sounds interesting, it’s a compelling sell. The voice is female, regional, perhaps Irish – trustworthy, salt of the earth, young and enthusiastic. Upbeat and with an inconsistent aversion to pronouncing her Ts. She might be a celeb, it’s hard to know nowadays.
The voice goes on…
“Potassium, iron, calcium, iodine and magnesium are all present in seaweed, high concentrations of Vitamin C and B, lots of amino acids and high fibre content. And, to top it all off, seaweed has an extremely low calorie content.”
Behind the scenes
“No, no, no. Cut. We’ll have to do another take. That’s far too informative. Too much bloody detail. Youf o’ today don’t want that. Can you just smile, we’ll play some beats, show the hashtag and cut to the seals?”
Evidently, dripping fronds of seaweed are unlikely to come to consumers’ doors via the click of a mouse anytime soon.
But many consumers are familiar with nori, as used in the sushi rolls of Japan, and crispy fried seaweed traditionally made from ulva seaweed in Eastern China (but more often kale in city restaurants).
Taste the difference
Others are familiar with Japanese broths and soups which are given their deep umami flavour using seaweeds. The very same seaweeds we have here.
Of all the varieties found on British shores, the following feature in our advert and are well worth a forage: Laver, sea lettuce, dulse, gutweed and green nori.
The British have much to discover.
“This next bits written in the first person. Its an endorsement, a kinda case study. We need reality folks. Can we get a celeb? Someone who’s done something really important — like reality TV? Great. Okay, read on, from the top…”
“I find seaweeds of the ulva family are best — sea lettuce is one. These wonderfully luminescent bright green seaweeds can be as fine as tracing paper, are easy to find in the temperate Atlantic and require little preparation.”
“Cut, cut, cut, cut, cuuuuuuuuuuuut!”
“Who bloody wrote this? Where’s Miss Made in Chelsea ever gonna have seen wonderfully luminescent temperate drifting fronds? We either dress her as a mermaid or rewrite this crap. Actually, forget MerMaid, its not rock n roll — we want MerQueen. In fact let’s have Freddy Mercury singing ‘who wants to live forever’ as the seals flap their flippy bits.”
“No I din’ say that, you misheard — I said ‘cut’ not… !”
“OK, don’t mind me, you know best. Have it your way an’ read on luv. It’s not my copy. What? You’re the world record freedive champ? Take it away…”
“Underwater the seaweed allows streaming light from the surface to pass through its paper like fronds – making them the brightest of lime green stained glass windows to the underwater seascape beyond”
“OK, it’s a wrap. Wonderful drifting fronds, I’m luvin’ your luminescen’ gal. I’m absolutely luvin’ it”
Advert small print
— In Scotland anything below the high tide mark is fair game, the Scottish have a wonderfully sensible and practical approach to the right to roam. The ocean is the people’s playground
— However, although anything up to the high tide mark belongs to the nation, seaweed sections should always respectfully and carefully be cut from their stem (as opposed to its otherwise uprooted) to ensure the seaweed regenerates to grow back
— Seaweed often contains much annoying and unpleasant sand and grit. All seaweed should be washed many times in clean salt water before it is hung for air-drying
— Access may be challenging. The makers of this advert in no way take responsibility for bones broken whilst collecting seaweed, after all, it’s quite slippery stuff and does not come packaged
— Access may be unmarked. The makers of this advert in no way take responsibility for any lack of sign-posting, way-finding, customer announcements or ‘slippery when wet’ sandwich boards. You’re on your own
— Access may not be instructional. Seaweed is not available dice-cubed, cellophane-wrapped, foam-trayed, bar-coded, nutritionally-analysed, ingredients-listed, special-offered and best-befored. You’ll have to work out the details yourself
— Access may be dangerous. Do not dive head first from cliffs. Tombstoning on UK shores kills 2.5 people annually (figures derived from 20 deaths, amortised over an eight year period since it is not possible for .5 of a forager to die tombstoning or otherwise)
— Access may be polluted. Do not forage seaweed near nuclear plants. It will make foragers turn even greener than their political persuasion. Do not forage seaweed near urban areas. Sewage outlets may make you smell like the minority of foragers who taint public opinion of the majority
— Access may be intimidating. DNA tests of common seal carcasses reveal harbour seals to be their regular assassins. Seals are cannibals and the nine foot long males weigh close to 400 pounds. Never feed a seal or they may feed on you
The Ad agency responsible for this promo is old school. Familiar with printing billboards, 6–sheet posters, magazine spreads and letterbox direct mail drops. Tweeting isn’t the way we’ve rolled but perhaps we should get down with millenials.
Watch out for us becoming professional Twits soon with the following recipes.
— Bright green seaweeds such as dulse and sea lettuce can be dried and deep fried for a few seconds to make crispy seaweed, then sprinkle equal amounts of salt and sugar over the top for seasoning.
— Such delicate seaweeds can, when dried, be added to salads or used as garnish, they have a characteristic taste of the sea
— Try scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and roasted dulce seaweed if only for the colour
— Alternatively roast thin strips of lightly oiled dulce seaweed in a Dutch Oven. It will nicely crispen in 20 minutes
— Strands of kelp can be cut small and dried to season soups and stocks, simply add a few fronds when cooking and remove before serving. Dulce can stay in the bowl
— Laver can be cooked down to a paste and teamed with bacon and oatmeal for the quintessential Welsh dish Laver bread. But the cooking method’s complexity warrants a post unto itself