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Kelp could save our oceans — if you eat it

Up to eight feel below the ocean’s surface, former cod fisherman Bren Smith grows groves of a plant that he says could feed the planet and heal its oceans.

“You know, for a fisherman it’s kind of weird to grow plants,” he said. “But this is the future.”

Smith’s referring to kelp, a seaweed capable of soaking up five time more carbon than land-plants and filtering excess nitrogen out of the water. While popular in Asia, kelp rarely appears on American menus. But in Smith’s mind, kelp could become the new kale — and help reverse some of the dangerous effects of human-caused climate change.

Smith farms his 20-acre ocean plot off the coast of Connecticut using a technique he calls “3D ocean farming,” which lets him grow various types of crops, such as oysters and mussels, on top of each other. That means his farm also functions as an artificial reef and attracts numerous species of fish and sea-dwelling birds.

Despite kelp’s many environmental benefits, few North Americans have heard of it, and even less would think to cook with it. But Smith isn’t too worried about it. Google — which offers kelp to 6,000 employees in its New York City cafeteria — is already his largest customer.

This segment originally aired July 25, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.