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Until recently, my primary exposure to seaweed was through the kelp forests of Southern California when I went diving. Like many Americans, I viewed seaweed as an oddity, made appetizing by generous helpings of rice, crab, fish, avocado, and a lot of soy sauce.
Little did I know that seaweed has been an important part of many cuisines for centuries, in places like Scandinavia and Wales, the Caribbean, and China, Japan, and Korea. And with good reason: it contains a plethora of nutrients, from vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron, not to mention plenty of soluble fiber and a generous jolt of omega-3s. All of which give seaweed profound anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Sounds good, right? And it is. But when Jin Jun set about creating seaweed-based SeaSnax; all she was thinking about was making her daughter healthy and happy.
The First Seaweed Snack in the U.S.
Jin’s daughter was obsessed with roasted seaweed snacks, which were common in their Korean community in South Central Los Angeles. But like so much else in their underserved neighborhood, what was available was compromised—burdened with corn oil and excessive salt, and sourced from unregulated suppliers. Jin, with a master’s degree in Chinese medicine, was attuned to the connection between food and wellness, and she thought she could do better for her daughter.
And thus was born SeaSnax. Using organic seaweed, extra virgin olive oil, and salt, Jin created the first roasted seaweed snack in America. And though the road was tough, she stayed true to her values. “We could have taken the faster, easier, or cheaper route, but our motto is: ‘We make snacks that our own kids eat.’ Our daughter is our North star. She sets the bar high, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Offer the Very Best of What You Have”
So SeaSnaxs are sourced from a co-op of South Korean seaweed farmers who Jin
helped receive USDA Organic Certification. And Jin refused to be deterred by naysayers who questioned the viability of her approach; “Even if you or others think the world isn’t ready for what you have to offer, if you offer the very best of what you have to give, there will be people waiting with open hearts and mouths.
“Our mission is to invest in the next generation by addressing access to healthy choices for children from low-income areas.” So SeaSnax donates to organizations—like the Garden School Foundation based in Los Angeles and the Coalition for Healthy School Food based in New York—that educate and encourage children in the inner city.
“I realized everything I had ever experienced—my creativity, activism, growing up in South Central Los Angeles in a food desert, motherhood, Chinese medicine, my values—were all in preparation for this. It is about providing the very best for my child, and for my customers. It is about serving. It is about love,” says Jin.
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