The Untapped Potential of Seaplants


Interview with Thorvin Founder, Bill Wolf

Bill_Wolf_harvestYou have had a lifelong passion for sea vegetation. Why?
It all started when I was apprenticing for the late Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, a visionary designing better ways for managing the impact of human behavior on the Earth’s resources. I discovered that the locals ate seaweed, fertilized their gardens, fed their livestock, and even banked the foundations of their buildings with seaweed to insulate against the cold and winter winds.

But that wasn’t the half of it. I soon came to appreciate the significance of sea vegetation, marcoalgae in particular, on the health of our planet and ourselves.

Why is sea vegetation so important to our health?
Looking at the big picture, plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. The majority of the Earth’s photosynthetic energy comes from sea vegetation because the oceans make up 71% of the surface of our planet and contains over 20,000 species of sea vegetables. This is a critical source for sustaining human life.

Remarkably, ocean water also contains all of the micronutrients required to sustain human life. In fact, the nutrients found in seawater are present in the human blood stream – in the exact same ratios. You might say this ocean brine is the lifeblood of our planet.

So it sounds like sea vegetables convey certain benefits because of the nutrients in the seawater.
Yes, sea vegetables, especially kelps, are highly efficient at collecting the abundant nutrients in the ocean. Each species has different nutrient characteristics, which make it useful for particular applications. We’ve barely scratched the surface, however, when it comes to realizing the benefits of sea vegetation in human, plant, and animal nutrition.

Do sea vegetables have a leg up on land plants?
Sea vegetables have access to a much broader range of nutrients required for health. In contrast, soil borne plants can only draw on the limited resources in the specific square footage of the soil in which they are grown.

Here’s another way to look at it:  We’ve been eroding our nutrients from fertile soils into our ocean for tens of thousands of years by natural processes and our behavior. Our seaweeds capture some of those nutrients and return them back to applications as soil mineral supplement, animal feeds, health foods, dietary supplements and skin care products.

What about sustainability? We hear a lot about over fishing, what about over harvesting of sea vegetation?
By understanding how to collect and harvest these sea plants in a sustainable way, we create an incentive to protect our ocean’s resources so we can still be allowed to live on the planet. Here at Thorvin, we have GPS-mapped all of the kelp beds from which we harvest. We rotate harvests, depending on the requirements of the species, which allows for ample regenerative growth.

Likewise, people raise concerns about pollution in our oceans. If sea vegetables are such remarkable bioaccumulators of nutrients, are they taking in pollutants?
This is a legitimate concern and manufacturers have to ask the right questions when sourcing sea vegetation for their formulations. I traveled to many regions of the world before selecting Thorvin’s core portfolio of kelp ingredients. I wanted species that were optimal for a range of applications and both the site and handling had to meet Thorvin’s quality criteria. For instance, we harvest in a location that is geographically remote, free from agricultural run-off, has fast-moving water, and no commercial shipping. The waters are exceptionally clean.

Manufacturers ought to ask questions about location and clean site standards, as well as inquire about harvest methods, the training of the harvester, and broader sustainability questions about mapping, renewability, and impact of the harvest on non-target species.

Why do you call Thorvin the “World’s Finest Nutrients?”
It’s a way for us to tell our unique story and what it means for you. Thorvin stands out for its nutrient value and range of uses. We achieve exceptional nutrient density because of our harvest site, unique drying methods, and handling protocols. For instance, we dry at low controlled temperatures – using geothermal energy – which “locks-in” the nutrients and preserves cellular structure and bioavailability.  Thorvin ingredients are the World’s Finest Nutrients because of our quality. You get more nutrient value in the bag.

How can people realize better nutrition with sea vegetation?
I would like people to consider sea vegetation more closely when thinking about where they get their nutrition. If you’re using seplants to feed livestock, have you considered it for your cropping plan, in the soil or as an extract? If you’re using kelp in dietary supplements, have you considered using it in pet food?

Bucky was right when he said that sea vegetables were one of the most important and untapped sources of nutrition for human beings. We just can’t get a broad array of nutrients in an assured form from any other source.