Stories From Main Street: Connecticut Ocean Farmer Hopes To Make Kelp The New Kale

BRANFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Kelp is not just for sushi anymore.

That’s the message Bren Smith, Thimble Island Ocean Farm in Branford, Connecticut, is trying to spread.

“We want to make kelp the new kale,” Smith said.

The fruit of Smith’s green thumb is grown in the Long Island Sound.

“Just imagine an underwater garden,” Smith said. “We grow kelp but we also grow scallops, mussels, clams and oysters.”

Smith said kelp is good for the environment because it soaks up carbon and nitrogen.

“It takes no fresh water, no fertilizer, no feed to grow it making it the most sustainable food on the planet,” Smith said, adding it’s also good for your body. “Kelp is really high in iodine, which is hard to get, carbohydrates, protein. If you look at the full nutritional profile you can get more protein than red meat, more Vitamin C than citrus fruits, more D than milk.”

Once the kelp is blanched, Smith said it tastes good, too.

“We worked with a chef in New York City, we did barbecue kelp noodles with parsnips and breadcrumbs. We’re doing bouillon cubes, kelp ice cream,” Smith said.

Smith is training new kelp farmers with his non-profit GreenWave and hopes to win over American taste buds.

“Eventually we hope to be in Costco and Stop & Shop, we’re not there yet but hopefully in the next five years you’ll see our food there,” Smith said.

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