3/26/2013 10:31:00 AM

Artisans in Austin: Austin Sea Veggies

When Lewis Weil started selling his ogonori seaweed at farmers’ markets and Wheatsville Co-op two years ago, many remarked that “local” and “seaweed” don’t often appear together in our landlocked city. But Weil is committed to growing pollution-free seaweed for us, and Austinites have come to love the crunch of his Hawaiian variety of seaweed.

He describes the ogonori as “sea sprouts,” because they have that crispy quality and in Hawaii are eaten like potato chips. The sprouts are grown using aquaculture (i.e., clean saltwater), and Weil is more than eager to share his methods so people can start their own seaweed farms. He told Slashdot,
“Energy wise it's one of the most efficient crops in the world because the whole thing is food. Each branch is a new plant… I have not formally audited the carbon footprint, yet. My rough estimate, was when I first started doing it and my electric bill didn't go up. And electric bills in Texas can be pretty ridiculous. So, I knew that if it wasn't making a bump in my electric bill, that I wasn't using that much power."  
Our city is clearly interested, and the company just recently received a grant from the Austin chapter of the Awesome Foundation in October. And Chef Sonya Cote served the seaweed with dried mushrooms, tofu and miso at TEDxAustin in February as a surprise on the menu.

And lest you think the only way to eat seaweed is by itself, check out the recipes online as well as the poke that food trailer Fresh Off the Truck is making with Weil’s ogonori tonight at Trailer Food Tuesday at the Long Center.

Need to get in touch with the Zagat blog in Austin? Email Megan Giller at megzagATX at gmail dot com.


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