Product Development: Sea Vegetables
The coastal bays of the Delmarva Peninsula have rich and diverse assemblages of seaweeds. Of all the bays, the southern Chincoteague Bay has the greatest richness of seaweed species that are abundantly distributed throughout the bay. Studies show that some of the common seaweed species that drift in large volumes also respond positively to excess nutrient loads leading to anoxic conditions, blocking needed sunlight for photosynthesis, and impacting bay grasses and other aquatic species negatively. Incidentally, some of these seaweed species are also edible and are termed “sea vegetables.”
The overall goal of this research project is to advance the body of knowledge in applied natural sciences and human nutrition through the following objectives that include 1) nutritional composition (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, flavonoids, and omega-3 fatty acids) surveys of three abundant species of sea vegetables (Fucus distichus, Gracilaria tikvahiae, and Ulva lactuca) in the Chincoteague Bay; 2) studying the impact of seasonal variations on the nutritional composition of these sea vegetables; and 3) increasing the institutional capacity of UMES for extension/outreach in applied natural sciences and food science education through workshops, seminars, websites, newsletters, and data bases.
This approach, combining collaborative research with outreach activities, aims to provide the needed enhancement of sea vegetable education in the Delmarva region through increased public awareness of the long-term benefits of consumption of nutrient-rich sea vegetables, promotion of local and regional sea vegetable farming, and contributing towards strengthening the nation’s alternative food and agriculture research system.