Last week when I visited Sweetgreen for lunch, an employee excitedly mentioned the new David Chang collaboration that was dropping on February 13. (Hey, that’s today!) I was most certainly intrigued, though perhaps not enough to deviate from my utterly unwavering order of Harvest Bowl, No Rice. However, now that I know the new David Chang-approved salad has kelp in it, I just might have to step out on my baby kale and chase this flashy new bowl.
The Washington Post reports that Sweetgreen, a fast casual salad chain with nearly 100 locations nationwide, has debuted their new Tingly Sweet Potato and Kelp Bowl in a bid to make seaweed a bigger part of Americans’ diets. Kelp is a plant that helps reverse ocean acidification, so growing it on a large scale (for trendy salads, say) is good for the environment. Increased kelp farming also benefits lobstermen in the Gulf of Maine, who need to diversify their income streams now that rapidly warming oceans are yielding fewer and fewer lobsters. Kelp can be harvested with the same boats and equipment that lobstermen already use, and a company called Atlantic Sea Farms is working directly with the new kelp farmers to supply seeds and training for free.
Sweetgreen betting big on kelp could change the way that other fast casual chains turn inward to focus on their own sustainability efforts. Beyond that, seaweed is nutrient-dense and pretty good for us, and some people even find it delicious, which is a big plus when designing a sustainable menu. The Tingly Sweet Potato and Kelp Bowl features roasted chicken, marinated kelp, Japanese sweet potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, cilantro, wild rice, kale, lime cashew dressing, and Momofuku’s Tingly Seasoned Salt. If I order this, I probably won’t say “Tingly.” But I hope I do say, “Mr. Chang, you’ve done it again.”