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Plant Chat: Willem Sodderland, Founder of Seamore

Sharon Palmer

Weclome to my Plant Chat with Willem Sodderland, founder and seaweirdo at Seamore. Based in Amsterdam, Seamore is leading the revolution to turn seaweed into an everyday food. Before starting Seamore, Willem started Buzzable, an innovation accelerator and buzzer, Europe’s leading word of mouth marketing agency. Seamore is a food startup that transforms everyone’s favorite foods into superfoods. Their secret weapon? Seaweed. I Sea Pasta is their first product: A seaweed that has disguised itself as tagliatelle. Picked straight from the rocks, this sea pasta tastes great and is good for you and the planet. “Some seaweed, we seamore.” Continue to read on about this fabulous plant-based company.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your company, Seamore?

Well, I ordered a seaweed salad in a restaurant and couldn’t find the seaweed. The chef set me straight: what looked like spinach tagliatelle was actually the seaweed. It’s a special species that grows on the rocks, looking like pasta. The texture was similar and the taste neutral so the spark was immediate. What if we could replace pasta with seaweed. This was at a time when my wife and I were looking for ways to cut down our carb intake, but finding it quite challenging to do so. So apart from seeing the potential in a broader sense I had a personal reason for spotting the opportunity.

Then I started doing research on the future of food and the role seaweed could play. My findings were such that I just had to start a company with the mission to turn seaweed into an everyday food.

The fact that seaweed is a very, very logical and elegant solution to the huge challenges we face to create the future of food.

We’re now getting 2.5% of our food from the ocean, even though it’s 70% of our planet’s surface

If we don’t change our land-based diet we’ll need 4 planets by 2050 to feed everyone

Conclusion 1: we’ll need to source a lot of our food from the ocean.

For ecological reasons, we’ll have to move away from animal to green proteins.

For health reasons, we will also have to move towards a predominantly plant-based diet.

Conclusion 2: we need to shift to plants.

Conclusion 1 + Conclusion 2: plants from the ocean = seaweed. As a bonus, seaweed ticks all the boxes of healthy food and upcoming heathy lifestyles. It’s also the most sustainable food on the planet. It just needs seawater and sunshine!

The only challenge that seaweed faces is how to get it onto people’s plates. And since my encounter with the pasta, I figured I had seen a way to help adoption. Position seaweed as a tasty, healthy and sustainable alternative to food we already love.

You make a lot of creative products with seaweed. What are the benefits of using seaweed in the kitchen?

From a culinary perspective, seaweed is umami in taste, which means savory. Umami is a taste enhancer, so it actually strengthens flavors it accompanies without having to add salt. So it’s versatile in that way. Some benefits are particular to the species/product. I Sea Pasta, for instance, always stays al dente, you can’t cook it to death. A lot of people are trying to cook more with veggies. With seaweed, you open up a whole new world of veggies. Many seaweeds are also versatile in their application. I Sea Pasta goes into pasta classics, curries, soups. Finally, many seaweeds are sold dried and can be kept for long.

Other cultures eat seaweed regularly, why are we slow to catch on in the US? Is that changing?

It’s funny. Seaweed is a very old food. Early man already ate seaweed. And in Asia they never stopped. I think Western people have moved away from nature so much that we forgot about seaweed. In Ireland – a country with great seaweed heritage – people forgot about seaweed and only now is it coming back. They now have to train young people to harvest because two generations were hardly involved in it. And yes, it’ changing. Seaweed is the new, new thing. Which doesn’t mean everyone is already eating it but it’s definitely shifting. The focus on health and healthy lifestyles is probably the biggest factor creating the shift. Seaweed just ticks all the boxes.

Is seaweed an important part of a plant-based diet, and why?

It has two important things going for it. It’s the planet’s original superfood. Most seaweeds have a huge array of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Things you can hardly get from other foods like iodine and omega3, incredible dietary fiber, protein levels. I wouldn’t call it a one stop shop but it gets pretty close. The second reason is simple: it’s the most sustainable food on the planet. We don’t have enough land, we do have enough water.

What are some of your favorite ways to use seaweed in cooking?

I love the fried I Sea Bacon as a topping on a salad. I also love putting leaves of seaweed through risotto. And they work fantastic in Thai curries. Lastly, laying the strands of I Sea Pasta right next to each other (with my daughters) creates a wicked lasagna!

What is your own philosophy for healthy living and eating?

I’ve started cutting back on carbs and meat. And I’ve been pushing myself to learn more about cooking veggies and becoming more creative with them. I’m not very strict: I can have my guilty pleasures. Food should always be a joy not a functional thing.

Check out Willem’s favorite easy “no recipe” plant-based ideas for featuring seaweed.

Seaweed Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Grilled Artichokes

Sauté I Sea Pasta (per package directions) with pesto, cherry tomatoes, and grilled artichoke hearts in a saucepan. Enjoy!

Seaweed Bacon Salad

Toss a huge salad with lettuce, beetroot, peas, and an orange olive oil dressing and top with sautéed I Sea Bacon.

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