Agar Agar is an edible thickener made of sea vegetables, and a popular vegetarian alternative to gelatine. While we were on Nusa Penida, Bali we witnessed exactly how difficult the process of making Agar Agar actually is. Sometimes it is good to know who does all the hard work to get food on our tables, so here is a bit about seaweed.
These are typical seaweed farms in Bali - bamboo poles hammered into the sand. The farmers (mostly women) harvest the seaweed every low tide, using a torch at night, if necessary.
Once their basket is full, they float it in to shore (it is very wet and heavy), dump it on the beach and begin sorting bits for harvesting (takes about 40 days to grow on lines in the water) and bits for drying out.
Here are the quality pieces of seaweed ready for sale to Japan.
Send to Japan for processing. Re-sold around the world and made into jelly etc.