Eat More Kelp

A few weeks ago, I made my first visit to the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, Calif.  Surrounded by virtually anything that anybody could ever buy in a Whole Foods-type store -- from organic dogfood to every conceivable chia-seed product you can imagine -- it was impossible not to share the eco-sensory overload on social media.

One of those posts prompted an old friend to reach out about his newest enterprise ... a kelp farming operation in Portland, Maine called Ocean Approved (www.oceanapproved.com)

Farming their kelp in Casco Bay and already cranking out 80,000 pounds of kelp a year, Ocean Approved sounds like a tasty triple-bottom line operation.  I'm pretty sure I ate some on a salad at American Flatbread.  It might have been on the pizza, too. Tasted great.

Tollef Olson is the founder of Ocean Approved, and spent some of his valuable time to visit with the wildly influential readership of WickedOutdoorsy.  

In three words or less, what does kelp taste like? 

Mild, slightly crunchy.

In five years when this is huge, where am I going to find kelp at my local grocery store? In the produce section next to the lettuce? Or in a refrigerator case next to the olives and salsa? Or somewhere else? 

In the freezer case with the other frozen seafood specialty items. Its a fresh frozen product. Use enough for one meal (a little goes a long way) and put the rest back in the freezer. A no waste veggie!

How much does a pound (or whatever) of kelp cost to a shopper?

10 bucks a pound, give or take some coins.

Is there anyplace on earth where kelp is on the daily menu already?

Tons of places! Our kelp is in hospitals, private school cafeterias, college dining halls, and restaurants like Flatbread right here in Portland.

Who would be the best celebrity endorsement for kelp?  Bono, Michelle Obama or Lindsay Vonn?

Michelle Obama on the nutrition side probably. She is rumored to already be on the kelp bandwagon. Bono on the sustainability side

What's the super-fast explanation of why kelp is important for the ocean environment?

It sequesters carbon and releases oxygen into the water. It fights ocean acidification. Our kelp farms form "structure" for all types of marine organisms. It also is a winter crop so it helps those people who rely on the ocean for jobs - winter is typically a very lean time for those who work the ocean.

So there's the environmental angle of saving the oceans, the food angle of feeding a growing population, and the pure business angle of getting ahead of the curve on something truly new and innovative ... But which of those three is the biggest strength of this kelp endeavor?

Three things. Good for us - nutrition. Good for planet - sustainable. Good for economy - new source of jobs for US labor. Biggest is probably that you are growing a crop that doesn't need fresh water, fertilizer, or tillable soil.

How big is the kelp "industry"?

Difficult to measure. On the global scale estimates are between $4-6 Billion per year. 

Are there different "grades" of kelp, like levels of quality in maple syrup?

Not officially, but our kelp raised in the cold clean waters of Maine grows in one of the cleanest environments available and is then cleaned, blanched, and then flash frozen, as opposed to a dried kelp grown in a less ideal environment that is then "reconstituted"  with preservatives and yellow and blue artificial color.

Who is currently buying Ocean Approved's harvest of 80,000 pounds of kelp a year?

All different folks. I mentioned a bunch before- Flatbread, Phillips Exeter, Bowdoin, and many distributors - PFG, Native Maine, Farm Fresh in Rhode Island 

How much kelp is in your refrigerator right now?

My freezer is pretty full right now - 15 lbs? Some slaw and some rounds.

How does your wife feel about this whole kelp thing?

My wife thinks its a howl. We had a party where we attempted to construct the perfect sandwich using kelp. I think we came close. We named it the Ernie Banks - "so good you want to eat two!"  The kids even eat it. I gotta get you some.


Does climate change need a Michael Sam moment?

I'm not gonna lie. I adore Porter Fox and aspire to be more like him every single day, but I don't want to read "Deep" -- the story of how climate change is killing snow and ending winter.

I'm old enough to have seen the writing on the wall for the last four decades: the shrinking snowpacks, the 33 degree thundersnowstorms, the emotional roller coaster of climate whiplash, and the blissful ignorance of everybody standing around watching things melt. So I sort of feel like I should get a pass on this one.

I don't want to read Elizabeth Kolbert's "Sixth Extinction" either (though I did read Al Gore's review of it, NYT LINK).  It's a book about how carbon emissions are fueling (word choice intended) mass extinctions, with up to 50% of thew world's species doomed for the history books in the coming century.

Out my backdoor in Vermont, bats have gone from a regular sight in summer (my first year here in 2004 I caught one on a fly rod back cast) to practically invisible.  Bees are storied to be next up on the hit list.  So once again, I feel like reading about something that I"m already seeing is just gonna send me into a gin-spin.

But I didn't get a pass on proofreading my daughter's climate change paper the other night.  

She's in eighth grade, smart as a whip, and a strong writer.  I was supposedly just reading the paper for grammar and punctuation, but the content kicked me right in the gut.  

Our children, with their bright eyes and their undying trust in the world of adults, already know what's coming.  It's not hypothetical to them.  Nor is it political.  It's their future.

It struck me that my daughter's paper followed the same general format as Mr. Fox,  Ms. Kolbert, and Mr. Gore. They all lay out the case, prove it with a litany of beautifully written examples, and then wrap it up with a Lorax-ian call to get our shit together, or else.

Michael Sam, on the other hand, is a top-rated NFL draft pick from the University of Missouri. Last week, he made massive headlines by announcing that he is openly gay.  He'd had enough of hiding, enough of worrying about what might happen, and instead decided to take control of his future ... all of it.  Mr. Sam was rewarded by massive media coverage as well as incredible support from his alma mater and their fan base. I bet it feels good.  

To a certain extent, Mr. Sam's announcement didn't come out of the blue ... it's been in the works for decades (or longer), as activists and individuals have taken their own stands, at their own times, saying simply that enough is enough.  

On the other hand, it's hard to think of an announcement that made bigger headlines for something that the vast majority of people already knew and accepted (i.e., that being gay has zero to do with the ability to play football).

At this point, climate change is known and accepted as well.  It's here and it's queer.  Get used to it.  

But as the torch of proof moves from the best scientists of our age to the best writers of our generation, you've gotta wonder when the greens will get their Michael Sam?  The one that stands up and says "enough is enough" in a way that can get the attention and the support of a majority of Main Street America?

I certainly have enjoyed watching Mr. Fox's book get swept up in the draft of Winter Olympic media coverage, get a slot on the editorial page of the NY Times, make it on with Diane Rehm, and even get used as a prop on the floor of the House of Representatives.   And I'll be rooting for Ms. Kolbert's book to make a similar -- if not greater -- impact.  

The one I'll cheer the most, however, is the one that puts all the dots together.  The one that gets a Michael Sam moment.


Top 10 perks of living in the Seattle of Vermont

10.  Only 124 hours until we start tailgating for the Broncos-Pats game.

9.   Childhood dream of making a million dollars in the windshield wiper fluid business inching closer to reality.

8.  Dog poop in yard finally reaching that gelatinous can't-be-picked up stage.

7.  Prancercise.

6.  Two-for-one tanning night at Hair Force One.

5.  Guilt-free Dark Roast binging.

4.   Phish's 'Round Room' has stopped totally sucking.

3.  State troopers too sluggish to pull you over for that 4-month overdue vehicle inspection.

2.  No-pants Mad Bus day!

1.  Could be worse.   You could be Roger Hill.


David McLain has balls

If you're a National Geographic reader, you've probably seen the work of David McLain.   If you're an Outdoor Retailer kind of person, you've probably seen David's work through Merge Creative in the visual language of Horny Toad.    And if you're a Mainer, you've probably seen David kicking around the outdoor skating rink in Yarmouth.   

A normal looking guy with a seriously abnormal frequent flier account, David's most recent project is "Bounce:  How the ball taught the world to play," a massive project that included traveling around the world to document some of the world's oldest games.

One of those stops was the Kirkwall Ba' in the Orkney Islands of Scotland ... a game with no uniforms,  no rules, and total carnage.   Starting in the center of the village (where windows and shops are boarded up, duh), farmers scrum against fishermen in a game that makes rugby look pretty tame.  One side wants to throw the ball over the hill, one side wants to throw the ball in the ocean, and apparently the beer flows like bandaids at the end.

Your body of editorial work is increasingly filled with ideas that sound simple, but clearly are not.   Allergies, happiness, secrets of long life, and the history of the ball ... is using imagery to make people give everyday things a second thought incredibly challenging?   Or incredibly easy?

DM:  Lots of interesting things that affect us profoundly are too obvious to be apparent. Stopping to take a look at them every now and again can be really fascinating.

There is a phantom like quality behind the clear communication of ideas though.  Essentially the better you do it, the more invisible you become.  

It’s like reading a New Yorker article where you are so engrossed in the story you forget that someone spent a year of their life researching and writing it and someone else with a lifetime of experience edited it so it flowed seamlessly and made sense. Professionals make the complicated appear simple.

Whose idea was 'Bounce'? And how long has the project been going on?

DM: Jerome Thelia and I are long time business partners in Merge, a boutique video production company.  John Fox, a mutual friend of ours had just written a book called The Ball:  Discovering the Object of The Game and when we read an early version of the manuscript we fell in love with the idea. 

It was so visually rich and intellectually challenging.  That was over two years ago now and we are just coming down the home stretch after having logged tens of thousands of miles and hundreds of hours of footage all over the world.

When you told your family that you were going to film the Kirkwall Ba, what did they say?

DM: Well, the Ba game is only played on Christmas day and New Years day so naturally they said “we’re coming” and they did.  We travelled all around Scotland as a family and wound up having an incredibly memorable Christmas together in Kirkwall.  My son Finn, who was 11 at the time, was almost run over by the mob during the Ba game and lost his shoe trying to get away.  He made it back to the apartment we were renting and his shoe was sitting right on our doorstep.  Everyone in town knew us by that point so whoever found his shoe knew it was his and where to return it.

What kind of gear did you use to shoot the Ba?

DM: The entire film is being shot 5K on a RED Epic camera which is a pretty sophisticated tool.  Lots of major Hollywood features are shot with this camera.

After the Ba ends, is there a celebration?   Or are people simply too exhausted?

DM: I’ve heard it said that in Scotland Beer is the staple carbohydrate and it’s basically true.  After the game each side goes to their favored bar and drinks and sings until 1am or so.  Then, the winner of the Ba (one guy) has to throw a party for the entire team at their home so the afterhours party moves there.  It’s an experts only double black diamond party situation.

Is there any sort of Frank Deford-ian sportswriting grace evident during the Ba, or is it total chaos to be in a 350-person scrum?

DM:  Well, there are no rules.  Literally.  It appears like total Chaos and is actually quite horrifying to shoot (akin to covering a riot).  That said, the guys have literally been playing their entire life (there is a kids Ba game before the adult one) and know how to look out for one another in the sense of making sure no one dies. 

I guess the Defordian grace comes out of the fact that grown men who are farmers, fishermen and truck drivers live to play this game twice a year.  They are not spectators but active participants in a very ancient game which the ruling elite have been trying to squash (quite successfully) since the middle ages.  They do this for the love of the game and tradition and pride and nothing else.  

If you ask one of these guys what would happen to the game if the winner got money or they hired “professionals” or they got corporate sponsorship they either look at you like they are going to beat the crap out of you for even thinking this way or politely say it would never happy implying that the game lies outside of commerce, commercialism,or profit.

What other segments did you film/shoot for Bounce?   Which were your favorites?

DM: We’ve been to Italy, England, Mexico, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Canada, Belgium, and probably 10 or so different states in the US.  They were all fascinating for different reasons and you can see a bit what we covered at each location here:  http://bouncethemovietravels.blogspot.com/

How did working on 'Bounce' change your opinion about the games people play?

DM:   The urge to play predates language, culture, and even humanity.  Most mammals and many non-mammals play.  This is strange from an evolutionary point of view because why would we engage in an activity that has no purpose, expends unnecessary calories, and even puts us at danger.  What benefit does fun, laughter, and unbridled joy bring to us as a species?  Its one of the core ideas we explore in the fim and has made me realize that pure play (an activity without purpose or goals) if fundamental to our existence and development as human beings.

When are you coming to Vermont?

DM:  I’m embarrassed to say the last time I was there was to shoot a story on Jay Peak for Skiing magazine about 15 years ago.  Looks like a trip over there is long overdue.  


Can skiers scare the world straight? "DEEP" launches on Kickstarter to find out

Porter Fox is a busy guy.  These days, he keeps his stuff in Brooklyn and spends his days as the publisher of Nowhere, a literary travel e-zine.  But back in the day, he did a stint in the Wyoming newspaper business (Jackson Hole News) before trying his hand at self-publishing with a backcountry newszine ("The Pass").  He eventually found his way to Powder ...  and although it was on the diametrically opposite side of the universe from his Maine roots and newsprint background ... it was a perfect fit.

Photo:  Dave Reddick
At Powder, Porter sharpened his natural ability to go long without losing his way; weaving thoughtful story arcs into travel pieces that easily could've been mailed-in chronological blather.

This fall, Porter brings his toolbox to his biggest story arc ever:  the 8,000-year-old history of skiing, the miracle of snow and how climate change could wipe out both in the next 75 years.

DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow lays out some sobering data, like how the rate of winter warming in the U.S. has tripled since 1970, how half of Northeastern ski resorts will close in the next 30 years due to rising temperatures, and how more than a billion people depend on snowmelt for their everyday water supply.

There's no big publishing house behind this effort ... no major marketing or distribution plan ... just a bunch of skiers who feel like this is a story that's worth being told.   If you agree, head on over to Kickstarter and give the thing a kick.  (LINK: DEEP on Kickstarter).


I would say it's closer to a cautionary tale. Big changes are coming to the mountains in the next 30-70 years, including diminishing snowpacks, increased avalanche danger, intense storms and other changes that will alter how we travel in the high peaks. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, then we will likely see the end of skiing as we know it by 2100, if not before. If we can decarbonize and lower emissions significantly, it's possible to keep winters similar to how they are today. With 97% of climatologists in agreement that humans are warming the Earth, it is also true that we can slow that warming.


I went to Breadloaf  to study creative writing. I worked with Josip Novakovich on a few short stories I was editing. He was great and it was a terrific experience, inspiring on all fronts.


I think the line was "By about mid-century, the coldest year will be warmer than the hottest year in the past." Either way, DEEP covers a range of predictions, because that's all we have. The lower end of the range (2C) is manageable, the upper end (4-6C) is scary and will be catastrophic to the world and the human race. Though computer models can't make exact predictions 50 years out, the range that they are predicting is getting more accurate. So it's good to know what the upper and lower ends of warming mean, because either could happen.  


Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson's comments on climate change are pretty funny.


Half and half. Two skiers from Jackson Hole approached me with the idea. When I read about the state of snow and ice in the world, I adapted the storyline to what it is in the book. 


I think I'm telling a story people simply don't know about. I didn't, and I've worked at a ski magazine for 14 years.


I think every generation has its fight. My grandfather fought in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII.  Many parents today fought in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. Our generation has been incredibly lucky, and somewhat spoiled. This is our fight and a chance to make our mark. Not just to protect our way of life, but to make it even better, more equitable and more sustainable.


Stock up on canned food. 


Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think

OCTOBER 10, 2013   "... If greenhouse emissions continue their steady escalation, temperatures across most of the earth will rise to levels with no recorded precedent by the middle of this century, researchers said Wednesday ... To put it another way, for a given geographic area, “the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past,” said Camilo Mora, the lead scientist on a paper published in the journal Nature...."

LINK ... NY Times


Gripped, gripping, grippiest, grip-tacular ... 'The Summit'

The best part about "The Summit"?   It was allegedly inspired by the movie "Cliffhanger" ...


Huck it if you can

 ... and the Mad Hatter 'hat tourney' is this weekend (Saturday, Sept. 7).   Register here.



OR report: The line in the sand

Maybe you saw the news.   

The headlines were all about "riots" after a rash of window breaking, fighting, car kicking and portapotty tipping at the Vans US Open of Surfing last week.   

But the inside line was different.   While the mainstream media and everpresent iPhones covered the street carnage in detail, the surfing media turned their wrath on over-promotion and the dilution of the sport's soul. 
The Inertia was relatively calm about it, letting the pictures tell the story (LINK) of a culture that is losing the battle to big business.

Others were less subtle. The Epic TV surf report aired multiple grievances about the event (LINK), like how the incidents were "the result of trying to sell surfing to people who don't actually surf."   And how the "industry" should realize it's all of their own making:  "Dear surf industry.  Quit blaming others for the "riot" in HB.  Own up to it.  You brought "the fans" here. If they surf or not is a non issue."   

To pit surfers vs. non surfers, and industry vs. reality, you've got to draw a big line in the sand. Unfortunately, it's a little late for that.

A thousand miles away from the weak waves and heavy partying of Huntington Beach, the idea of a cultural divide was on more than a few lips at last week's Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City. 

On one side of the line were folks who felt like the big tent of "Outdoor" had finally gotten too big, as proven by decidedly non-core products and brands filling many of the gaps in an ever-growing OR show.   With what felt like a sizable upswing in brand diversity, as well as complaints about the host venue and city, the Outdoor faithful talked a lot in the aisles about a move to Las Vegas  -- a possibility that's not nearly as far away as it once felt.   At the same time, people openly wondered if a move would mean that the show and "industry" would finally be jumping the shark.

On the other side, there were folks who saw the idea of constraining Outdoor growth as not just elitist, but also economically suicidal.   What litmus test could honestly decide what's truly Outdoor when core brands are already happily selling barbecue shirts and yoga pants?  Seniority?  Child, please.

Maybe consciously, maybe not, the dividing line was virtually exposed in Backcountry.com's new brand video ... a luscious, spectacular piece of work that pretty much sums it up.  

Riding the tagline "when you're ready to suck the bloody marrow from this bone we call life, we're ready for you," the video aspires to draw a line in the sand. It embraces the idea of being a litmus test -- shooting for consumers who get it, while casting aside those who don't.  At once pulse-pounding and textbook elitist ... I love the thing (other than the tagline), and can't stop watching it.

But while marketing videos can be fantasy and still sell reality, the rest of us have to deal. Regardless of the axe-grinding at OR about hotels and restaurants and booth locations and (fill in the blank with complaint here), the ultimate question is whether or not to move the show after the contract expires in 2016 ... and if so, where.   

It's a hard conversation to have with someone you love ... but maybe it's time to just ask.  Does this convention center makes my trade show look too big?

With a quick look at the numbers, and a couple easy assumptions -- that the show will continue to grow, that Anaheim and Orlando are both too Disneyfied, and that no massive convention center expansions are on the horizon -- the path seems pretty direct to a suite at Mandalay Bay.

679,000 sq. ft 

584,000 sq, ft. (-14%)

815,000 sq. ft. (+20%)

2.1 million sq. ft (+220%)

2.1 million sq. ft (+220%)

With triple the space at the LVCC, there's clearly plenty of room for Outdoor to have it's way in the desert.  

But with triple the space, what does the future of Outdoor look like?  Does it thrive with the growth and addition of more vertical segments like fishing, bike, ski and surf?   Or does it go another way, as one veteran trade media editor predicted last week, with the addition of RVs, ATVs, and power boats?

In either case, it's time to understand exactly where that line in the sand lies.



With all due respect and deference to Shane McConkey and the brilliant creators of GNAR, it’s long overdue to bring just a smidgen of GNAR’s ten-ton awesomeness and self-deferential ridiculousness to the floors of the Salt Palace for the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show.  

Where else can you get 100k devoted and passionate outdoors people to spend four days of their precious summer … inside?  Where else can you get dirtbag climbers and river skids to plan four days of clean, color coordinated outfits?  Where else are you likely to be sandwiched in a coffee line between the president of Patagonia, the lead designer for Arcteryx, two world class freeclimbers, and a and first-year shop employee who refuses to talk to any of them out of "principle".
The following OR-GNAR outline is for fun only, and is not meant for gambling purposes. Unless, of course, we get enough people and you're into it.   Of course, if you've got more ideas, hit me here (@wickedoutdoorsy) or here (hello@palemorning.com)


-200 points
Using wheeled luggage in the O.R. show aisles at any time.  -250 if it’s on Horny Toad corner.

-150 points
Eating any showfood while sitting on the Salt Palace carpet at any time.  -250 for eating a tough skinned burrito with a soft plastic fork.

-50 points
Wearing a Western shirt and shorts at the same time, while talking about the Denver Broncos (#BeLikeKray)

-25 points
Wearing a short-sleeved plaid shirt and flip flops at any point next to another dude wearing a short-sleeved plaid shirt and flip flops.    Negative points are cumulative (3 plaid/ss = -75pts, eg).   Minus an additional 10 points for each visor in the group.

25 points
Scoring a "No Kids on a Powder Day" Coozie.    Get one from Patrick Brown at  Ticla (PV952)

50 points
Donating $5 to CityPak … the charity creators of storage packs for homeless people ... and earning a chance for airfare and tickets to Bonnie Raitt in Chicago.    (Thursday, 5:30 pm, High Sierra, Booth 16041)

50 points
Sporting a Utili-Kilt at any time.    Bonus 200 for wearing nothing else.

100 points
While waiting in line at any restaurant of coffee shop, loudly proclaim that "YOU KNOW, VEGAS HAS SIXTEEN OLIVE GARDENS AND THERE'S NEVER A LINE."

100 points 
While at the Teva Party, stand on a barstool and loudly proclaiming that you feel like Gandalf visiting the hobbits.  

100 points
Challenging Elevation Outdoors editor Doug Schnitzspahn to a poetry duel … to the death. (#WordsCan'tKillPoetDoug). 

100 points
Nordic walking in Lycra shorts on the sidewalk outside the Salt Palace between 8-9 am. Calling your mom while doing it.   200 pts.

100 points
During the SOG knife “swap” (Booth 120), ask marketing director Chris Cashbaugh if the new blade is sharp enough to "cut the cheese."

100 points
Eating a show hot dog with Climbing editor Shannon Davis.

200 points
Being at the show past noon on Saturday.

 200 points
Making safe but sanitary physical contact with any of the following people: Bear Grylls, Jeff Probst, Kenji Haroutunian or Chris Denny.   Photo proof required.  #TouchastaratOR

200 Points
Midway through a line preview with Sam Moulton of Outside Magazine, call your mom.   

250 points
For any working media, at any time, who purchases a beverage for a PR manager.   Photo proof required

250 points
Spending two hours, minimum, in the Pavilion – particularly on Friday afternoon for the #Night3PavilionParty

500 points
Topping out on the Pscico-comp Deepwater solo wall in Park City.   Extra points for doing it in the finals against Chris Sharma.   You've earned it.