October 24, 2012

Natural Foodie: Demand for VitaminSea products grows like a weed

Demand for the Maine company's SeaCrunch bars and other sea vegetable products is so hot, it can scarcely keep up.

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Tom Roth, who founded VitaminSea with his wife, Kelly, gathers rockweed from one of the company’s drying tables. The dried rockweed will be used as an animal feed supplement and natural lawn fertilizer.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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VitaminSea employee Mark Cunningham pulls sun-dried rockweed into a vacumn hose, which carries it to a grinder and bagger pulled by a truck.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

They started out selling dried seaweed at the Saco Winter Farmers Market, and quickly realized they'd sell more if they offered shoppers samples of a recipe that used seaweed.

The recipe they came up with is now known as the SeaCrunch bar. Soon they were inundated with shopper requests to buy some of the bars. Thus, the company's first food product was born.

Williams said in addition to being a Maine product, a big selling point for VitaminSea is that its offerings are gluten-free. Health-conscious consumers also appreciate that the company air dries all of its seaweed, rather than using drying machines.

Right now in an open field in Scarborough, the company has more than 200 tables covered in rockweed. This seaweed is sold to animal feed companies, which use it as a nutritional supplement, and landscaping companies, which use it as a non-polluting fertilizer.

In late March, the company will begin harvesting sugar kelp and the harvest will last into May. Then the company switches to harvesting other edible sea vegetables, such as dulse, wakame and sea lettuce.

While seaweed for the animal feed and landscaping industries can be dried in the open air, sea vegetables destined for human consumption are dried under cover. VitaminSea uses plastic-covered greenhouses, where long strips of seaweed dry in warm air.

Tom Roth may continue his fisherman ways by being up and out of the house by dawn, but he doesn't miss his past profession.

"I don't know how to tell you how lucky I am to do what I do," he said.

 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: akamila@pressherald.com

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

 

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Additional Photos

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VitaminSea’s products include a line of dried sea vegetables, which retail for $7.

Courtesy Photo

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‘Sea’sonings, which sells for $4.99, SeaCrunch bars, which retail for $3.50, and the “Simply Sea-Licious” cookbook, which sells for $12; and a popular sea vegetable, kelp, which is harvested in late winter and early spring in waters off Maine’s coast, air dries in a VitaminSea greenhouse in Scarborough.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

 


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