Norway Women Bring Seaweed to Culinary Heights in Europe

Lofoten Seaweed co-founder Angelita Eriksen picks kelp from the icy Norwegian waters. Olivier MORIN / AFP
Lofoten Seaweed co-founder Angelita Eriksen picks kelp from the icy Norwegian waters. Olivier MORIN / AFP
TT

Norway Women Bring Seaweed to Culinary Heights in Europe

Lofoten Seaweed co-founder Angelita Eriksen picks kelp from the icy Norwegian waters. Olivier MORIN / AFP
Lofoten Seaweed co-founder Angelita Eriksen picks kelp from the icy Norwegian waters. Olivier MORIN / AFP

In the glacial waters of the Lofoten archipelago in Norway's far north, Angelita Eriksen uses a knife to cut a handful of seaweed that will soon end up in a fancy European eatery.
"We have the cleanest and clearest waters in the world. We're very lucky that we have this really important resource growing right outside our doorstep," Eriksen told AFP in a cabin on the shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean where the seaweed is laid out to dry.
"We want to show that to the world."
The daughter of a Norwegian fisherman, Eriksen joined forces with New Zealand-born Tamara Singer, whose Japanese mother served seaweed with almost every meal, to start the company Lofoten Seaweed -- specializing in harvesting and preparing seaweed for the food industry.
With the help of six others, they hand-pick 11 tons of seaweed a year, the snow-capped mountains plummeting into the sea behind them in a dramatic tableau.
It's a demanding and "physical job", said Eriksen.
The peak season runs from late April until June, but "we harvest the dulse, the nori and the sea truffle in the winter and fall".
"It can be quite cold, as we can stay out for about an hour along the shore", with lower legs and hands submerged in the chilly water.
By "late May, I'm actually sweating in my suit".
One time, she said, "I took my glove off and the steam was just rising up".
"It's physically hard but at the same time it's very meditative, or therapeutic in a way, to harvest," she says.
'Delicate'
Truffle seaweed, winged kelp, nori, dulse, sugar kelp, oarweed kelp: the pair focus on about 10 types of seaweed, long eaten in Japan and increasingly popular in Europe for their nutritional qualities.
The seaweed is sold locally or shipped to gourmet restaurants in Norway and the rest of Europe.
The two women organize workshops to teach chefs about the different varieties and the qualities of each type.
"Seaweeds are like vegetables, they have their own texture, taste and colors," says Singer.
She said it was a "huge surprise" how many European chefs had little or no knowledge of the different flavors and ways of preparing seaweed.
The duo have worked with Japanese chefs "who know exactly what to do, you don't have to tell them anything".
"It's just so natural for them. It's like giving a piece of fish to a North Norwegian," says Singer.
Some 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, chef Josh Wing has been serving the pair's products in his high-end restaurant Hattvika Lodge for about five years.
He is well versed and does not need to take part in their workshops anymore.
Wing is particularly fond of the dulse, a "very delicate purple seaweed", which he serves with local fish dishes or bread.
It "can provide a physical texture in a dish that you can't get from other products", he tells AFP.
To ensure that their business is sustainable, Eriksen and Singer have mapped and dated their harvest sites, as well as the volumes of each species, for the past four years.
"Our results show that the regrowth in recently-harvested patches is actually faster than anticipated, almost as if a harvest actually stimulates growth," says Singer.



Hollywood Movies Rarely Reflect Climate Change Crisis. These Researchers Want to Change That

This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)
This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)
TT

Hollywood Movies Rarely Reflect Climate Change Crisis. These Researchers Want to Change That

This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)
This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)

Aquaman might not mind if the oceans rise, but moviegoers might.

That's one of the takeaways from a new study conducted by researchers who set out to determine if today's Hollywood blockbusters are reflective of the current climate crisis. The vast majority of movies failed the “climate reality check” proposed by the authors, who surveyed 250 movies from 2013 to 2022.

The test is simple — the authors looked to see if a movie presented a story in which climate change exists, and whether a character knows it does. One film that passed the test was the 2017 superhero movie Justice League, in which Jason Momoa's Aquaman character says, “Hey, I don't mind if the oceans rise” to Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne, The AP reported.

But most movies fell short — fewer than 10% of the 250 films passed, and climate change was mentioned in two or more scenes of fewer than 4% of the films. That's out of touch with a moviegoing public that wants “to see their reality reflected on screen,” said Colby College English professor Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, lead researcher on the study.

“The top line is just that the vast majority of films, popular films produced over the last 10 years in the United States, are not portraying the world as it is,” Schneider-Mayerson said. “They are portraying a world that is now history or fantasy — a world in which climate change is not happening.”

Researchers at Maine's Colby College published the study in April along with Good Energy, a Los Angeles-based environmental consultancy. The results were peer reviewed, and the authors are seeking publication in scientific journals. The researchers view the test as a way for audience members, writers and filmmakers to evaluate the representation of climate change on screen.

Some results were surprising. Movies that at first glance appear to have little overlap with climate or the environment passed the test. Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach's emotive 2019 drama about the collapse of a relationship, passed the test in part because Adam Driver's character is described as “energy conscious,” Schneider-Mayerson said.

The 2022 whodunnit Glass Onion and the 2019 folk horror movie Midsommar were others to pass the test. Some that were more explicitly about climate change, such as the 2021 satire Don't Look Up, also passed. But San Andreas, a 2015 movie about a West Coast earthquake disaster, and The Meg, a 2018 action movie set in the ocean, did not.

The authors narrowed the selection of movies by excluding films not set on Earth or set before 2006 or after 2100. They found streaming services had a higher percentage of movies that included climate change than the major studios did.

The study is “valuable for marketing purposes, informational purposes, data accumulation,” said Harry Winer, director of sustainability at the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Winer, who was not involved in the study, said it could also help serve as an incentive to connect audiences with climate stories.

“The audience will be more open to hearing a dialogue about what is right and what is wrong,” Winer said. “It's a conversation starter.”

The study authors said they see the climate reality check as a kind of Bechdel-Wallace test for climate change. Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist, is credited with popularizing that test in the 1980s by incorporating her friend Liz Wallace's test about gender representation in film into a comic strip. The test asks if a movie includes at least two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man.

Bechdel herself spoke highly of the study's climate test, which she described as “long overdue” in a social media post during this year's Academy Awards season. Bechdel said in an e-mail to The AP that “for a movie set in the present to ignore this existential threat just doesn't make sense anymore" in the age of climate change.

“I do worry that screenwriters might do it in a kind of rote way, which could be counterproductive, just like rote ‘strong female characters’ are," Bechdel said. "But injecting an awareness of our communal plight into the stories we ingest seems like a no-brainer.”