Dr. Jose Zertuche, the Sea Vegetable Biology and Cultivation Specialist at Blue Evolution, shares an eye-opening insight, “Seaweed is often misunderstood in the Western world.” Standing amidst their regenerative seaweed farm in Eréndira, just an hour south of Ensenada, Baja California, Dr. Zertuche gazes out toward the vast Pacific coast. “Many people simply encounter it washed up on the beach and dismiss it as ‘yuck, seaweed.’ However, seaweed holds remarkable potential as a versatile resource – as food, medicine, biofeed, and even makeup. Moreover, it stands out as one of the most sustainable crops that can be cultivated, whether on land or at sea.”
As Dr. Zertuche addresses our group of Baja and San Diego chefs and media, we stand before a captivating sight. Stretched across an expanse roughly the size of a football field, the seaweed farm’s 14 open-air tanks diligently aerate sea lettuce – grown from seed provided by their partnership with the UABC (Autonomous University of Baja California). Gathering nets in hand, a small crew of workers carefully harvest the vibrant green seaweed, collecting it in bins for future processing.
“Seaweed is one of the most sustainable crops.”
– Dr. Jose Zertuche, PhD, Blue Evolution
Notably, the water that fills these expansive tanks, each holding anywhere from 27,000 to 42,000 gallons, is drawn directly from the Pacific Ocean. This eliminates the need for freshwater, which bears immense significance in water-scarce Baja California. Moreover, seaweed possesses an exceptional ability to absorb carbon faster than any other crop, ensuring that the alkalotic water returned to the ocean helps de-acidify and re-oxygenate the sea.
Dr. Zertuche humbly acknowledges, “In the grand scheme of things, it may seem like a drop in the bucket. However, when sea vegetables are responsibly harvested, they not only offer exquisite flavors and exceptional nutritional value, but they also possess the potential to alter our climate equation on a larger scale.” Blue Evolution remains committed to their regenerative and bio-dynamic practices, which have earned their seaweed products the prestigious 100% Certified Organic label.
Blue Evolution: Pioneering Regenerative Aquaculture
In the realm of sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, a new term has emerged over the past decade – climate cuisine. Founded in 2013, Blue Evolution, a trailblazer in this field, leads the charge not only toward sustainability but also regenerative practices.
Nate Schlachter, Blue Evolution’s VP of Operations, brings a wealth of experience from the natural food industry and holds a deep passion for the intersection of food and sustainability. According to Schlachter, “As the global population rises, both consumers and producers are increasingly aware of the impact that farming, fishing, and grazing practices have on our planet’s climate. This growing awareness fuels the interest in regenerative agriculture and aquaculture.”
The concept of regenerative aquaculture traces its roots to Bren Smith, a former commercial fisherman reborn as an ocean farmer. Smith firmly believes that ocean farming represents the future model for sustainable practices. He explains, “Regenerative ocean farming establishes a new economy based on conservation, restoration, and mitigation. Rather than resource extraction.” Regenerative aquaculture offers a more sustainable approach to harnessing the resources of the sea.
Seaweed Farm Offers Culinary Delights
While seaweed has long been revered as a gastronomic and medicinal treasure in Asia, its potential remains largely untapped in other parts of the developing world. Blue Evolution aims to revolutionize this landscape by evangelizing regenerative aquaculture and introducing a wide range of seaweed-based food products.
Alongside their offerings of fresh and frozen wakame and kombu sourced from their farm in Kodiak, Alaska, Blue Evolution has curated an enticing array of culinary delights. Their wholesale product line also includes sea lettuce powders and flakes. Through their unwavering dedication, Blue Evolution seeks to showcase the extraordinary possibilities that seaweed holds for global cuisine.
Our group of chefs had the privilege of experiencing firsthand how Blue Evolution’s seaweed offerings elevate the texture and flavor of Baja California seafood. Collaborating with ingredient producers and a team of talented chefs, Maylin Chávez, Blue Evolution’s Executive Brand Chef, crafted a variety of delicious dishes utilizing Blue Evolution seaweed products.
Plump and decadent oysters from León del Pacifico, a family-owned aquaculture farm spanning four generations, were transformed with a ponzu sauce infused with three chiles, delicate slices of serrano chiles, and freshly harvested sea lettuce from Blue Evolution’s tanks. Alaskan wakame and sea urchin were immersed in dashi broth and garnished with yuzu and sea lettuce furikake. The highlight of the culinary experience was Maylin’s grilled seabass served in a dashi broth, complemented by the presence of sea lettuce. The dashi used in these dishes showcased the excellence of Blue Evolution’s Alaskan kombu as a base.
Naturally, given the facility’s proximity to Baja California wine country, all dishes were served and paired perfectly with varietals, blends, and sparkling wines from Vena Cava, Vinos Paolini, and Viñedos Mina Penélope.
Where to Find Blue Evolution’s Seaweed Farm Products
Blue Evolution’s wholesale wakame, kombu, and sea lettuce powders and flakes for ingredient manufacturers can be found in their primary markets. These include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and most recently, San Diego—where products are now available at Specialty Produce. Several major grocery retailers, such as Sprouts Market, have also joined the movement. Blue Evolution Alaskan wakame and kombu are available in Baja California via Jamat.
Looking ahead, Blue Evolution plans to expand their reach into the national market, introducing seaweed to Americans as just another versatile ingredient – alongside culinary mainstays such as baked goods, seasoning, snacks, soups, and sauces.
“The Seaweed industry offers hope. It’s a positive topic.”
– Beau Perry, Blue Evolution
Blue Evolution has emerged as one of North America’s largest growers of regenerative seaweed crops. Founder Beau Perry eloquently summarizes the significance of their work, stating, “Amidst the uncertainty we face today, supporting seaweed farmers and the seaweed industry offers hope. It provides tangible participation that drives change. It empowers us to embark on our personal health journey while positively impacting the planet through our food choices. It’s a positive topic worth discussing.”
With Blue Evolution leading the way, regenerative practices have taken root, forever transforming the landscape of agriculture and aquaculture.
Disclaimer: We toured Blue Evolution’s Eréndira seaweed farm as part of a two-day media trip, where meals, beverages and lodging were provided, courtesy of our hosts. No compensation was received for writing this article and A Gringo in Mexico’s views and opinions remain steadfastly our own.