Climate activists at New York University launch an EAT MORE KELP® BURGERS campaign with AKUA and Drawdown East End to Raise Awareness About Regenerative Kelp Farming as a Climate Change Solution

June 8, 2021

Greenwich Village, New York City – Graduate students Oriana Durand and Josh Needleman at New York University have focused their degrees and careers on food sustainability, and they are seeking system reform. Today the duo unveiled a first-of-its-kind coalition that they have brought together to push regeneratively farmed kelp products into the mainstream and generate widespread support for the adoption of climate cuisine, both on campus and off.

The coalition they have formed spans the Northeast coast from Maine to New York City to eastern Long Island. Leading the coalition is the celebrated AKUA, a pioneering young food company founded in Maine by two women environmentalists and entrepreneurs. Their mission is to feed the planet sustainably while reversing climate change and restoring health to our world’s oceans. All of AKUA’s products are made from ocean-farmed kelp, seagreens sourced from a network of regenerative ocean farms along the Northeast coast. Kelp is one of the most healing and healthy forms of food on the planet, for both humans and oceans. The kelp crops grown for AKUA products are being hailed by scientific communities for their proven ability to sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere, while requiring no fresh water or fertilizer to grow.

Partnering in the coalition is Drawdown East End, a grassroots, non-partisan group of climate problem-solvers from the Peconic Bay Bioregion on the east end of Long Island, New York. The group, inspired by the international Project Drawdown, strives to motivate communities to actively engage in local climate solutions. The goal is to reach “drawdown,” the point when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change.

“Food-related greenhouse gas emissions are a major contributor to climate change,” Oriana Durand said. “The Northeast seacoast has the potential to become a big climate solution for us in the Northeast, and a model for other coastal regions across the U.S. The cutting-edge kelp products being brought to market by AKUA right now provide us with an immensely powerful boost in the right direction.”

Last month Oriana and Josh took over Eat More Kelp®, a boutique marketing and promotional firm founded in Montauk NY in 2020 by climate activists, ocean farmers and marine biologists with the mission of raising awareness about the power of kelp to mitigate climate change. Now the team plans to use their Eat More Kelp® platform to drive the climate cuisine movement forward and today announced detailed plans for the launch of a national “Eat More Kelp® Burgers Summer Challenge.” The challenge, which involves the widespread distribution of Kelp Burgers and contests on social media, is being made possible through their new partnership with AKUA, the premier provider of market-ready kelp burgers in the country.

Josh has a background in the restaurant industry and is passionate about giving people the tools to cook and eat foods that fit their values. “We naturally make food purchasing decisions based on economics, taste, nutrition, availability and advertising. Climate is missing from that equation and people are increasingly craving this information. Local kelp is a major piece of the puzzle. The Eat More Kelp Burgers Summer Challenge is a creative way to introduce climate cuisine as a regenerative movement that enables us to nourish our bodies while healing the planet.”

With three years of corporate marketing experience and a degree in journalism, Oriana Durand is looking to harness the power of storytelling to bring food to the forefront of the climate discussion. “We urgently need to rethink our relationship with food and transition to a blue-green economy if we want to have a chance at reaching drawdown and reversing climate change. Kelp burgers from AKUA have enormous potential to drive this movement forward, and we are so excited to create more awareness about it through personal stories of the folks engaging in the Summer Challenge.”

“Climate Cuisine is something that is exciting for a lot of people and chefs,” said Mary Morgan, co-founder of Drawdown East End. “It is a cuisine and a lifestyle that focuses on what is healthy for the planet as well as people. It is based on three pillars – local and in season foods, regeneratively grown and produced foods – no pollution, no emissions — and third, zero waste, as food waste is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases, any food scraps go back into the earth to regenerate our soil.” Oyster and kelp farming are one of several Ocean Solutions to the climate crisis identified by Project

Drawdown, an international science-based climate solutions resource based on the work of 122 scientists and editor Paul Hawken to map, measure and model 80 best practices in use today, when scaled up, could achieve the goal of “drawdown” and reverse global warming.
To promote the Summer Challenge, Eat More Kelp® will be co-sponsoring Drawdown East End’s panel “Seafood for the Future – Advancing a Blue Green Economy,” an all-woman informational seminar on June 16th, from 4-5PM. Oriana Durand will be joining Chef Victoria Blamey, one of the latest chefs in residence at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant, Elizabeth Peeples, an oyster farmer at Little Ram Oyster Co., and Courtney Boyd Myers, co-founder and CEO of AKUA,) for a conversation about advancing a local, regenerative and circular economy through seafood and climate cuisine, like kelp. The event is free, all are welcome. Zoom link is on the Drawdown East End website calendar.


Note to Summer Challenge participants:
Use hashtags #eatmorekelp and #akuakelpburger in your posts.

About Akua

AKUA is a Brooklyn-based company that works with a network of regenerative ocean farms up the New England seaboard. AKUA are pioneers in kelp-based, meat alternative foods and their newest product is the world’s first Kelp Burger. The Kelp Burger is a whole foods, plant-based burger that’s non-GMO, chemical-free, and tastes DELICIOUS. AKUA’s journey began in 2017 after Co-Founder Courtney Boyd Myers visited GreenWave’s kelp farm in Connecticut and learned about the wonders of regenerative aquaculture. She asked what they needed to further their mission and the farmers responded, “We need your help creating a consumer market for kelp!” From there, Courtney met co-founder Matt “Spicy” Lebo and they began a journey of making their first product, Kelp Jerky, which launched in April 2019. When the world shifted in March 2020, the company shifted gears too and began work on the Kelp Burger. Between AKUA’s Kelp Jerky and Kelp Burgers, they’ve been featured in over fifty publications and have been named one of Fast Company’s “World Changing Ideas” and one of Travel and Leisure’s winners for their “Global Vision Awards. Just this spring, the customer-focused company raised over $1,000,000 million dollars from his community to launch The Kelp Burger.