Harvesting Seaweed

Our February 2018 Meeting was extraordinary. Phil Tillman with power points told a very important and engaging story of the Chinese families who settled along the Estero Bluffs on up into Cambria where they harvested and dried a specific light green seaweed. The seaweed was later ground into a fine powder. It was shipped primarily to China where it was used as an important ingredient in Chinese Cuisine. He also described these populations developing bonds with the Swiss Italian Dairy Farmers whose animals grazed on the Estero Bluffs. It was a rare haven of friendship and cooperation in the prejudice elsewhere in California. Phil’s second lecture was on the Navy Bean and the environmental destruction it caused in Arroyo Grande, another fascinating story. Phil mentioned that during World War I, fresh fruits and vegetables were not used to feed the soldiers. Different crops such as beans that could be dried and easily shipped abroad were the crops that farmers switched to. Phil played a few clips of James Dean from East of Eden to show the story of “bean contract speculation.”

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