Meet the Central Coast Waterman Who Thinks You Need More Seaweed in Your Life

Get to know one the world’s only natural sources of umami.

To some, seaweed is a slimy nuisance to sidestep on a beach walk. To Spencer Marley of Central California, it’s the future of delicious and sustainable cuisine. Marley became passionate about local seafood while working upon the waters of San Luis Obispo County in several positions for the past 15 years. During that period he’s been the aquaculture foreman of the Morro Bay Oyster Company, harvested wild salmon commercially and worked as an engineer on oil spill response ships. He now works shoreside at his alma mater Cal Poly, SLO and spends his free time scouring the tidepools of San Simeon and Big Sur for the finest culinary species of Pacific wakame, nori and kombu.

He started Marley Family Seaweeds with his wife and children to help bring the product to local consumers. All the harvested seaweed is dried in the traditional Japanese method with just saltwater and sun. And it is far more nutrient dense than any farmed vegetable. Seaweed is notably high in folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and selenium. It is also a great source of iodine and is widely noted as a good source of omega-3 for vegetarians.

Marley is now offering foraging tours along the Highway 1 Discovery Route. Guests enjoy a 90-minute walk on the beach and water learning about 10,000 kinds of seaweed in the ocean and collecting some along the way. The tour ends with bowls of ramen for lunch made with freshly harvested seaweed and served on the beach.

To sign up for a tour and learn more about Marley and his family, visit marleyfamilyseaweeds.com

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