“slow down and celebrate the waves and currents that shape you”
After discovering the myriad of health benefits of seaweed, founder Sachi Singh decided create delicious, bite-sized supplements to help spread the word about this underwater superfood. Created and run by women and on a mission to give back to the sea, connecting with a company like Rootless felt like a dream come true. Scroll to read more from our inspiring conversation.
Where did your inspiration for Rootless first come from?
I fell in love with seaweed in 2016. I was in Kiribati doing research on climate adaptation strategies and happened to visit a local seaweed farm. Not only did these fluttery fronds look otherworldly, but they also provided a source of livelihood and nutrition to the I-Kiribati community, who live in one of the most food-scarce parts of the world. Uniquely nutritious and an abundant food source? I went from being a casual seaweed fan (sushi, snacks) to realizing just how powerful seaweed really is.
Four years later, I found myself in my San Francisco kitchen staring at piles upon piles of red and brown seaweed, and various other ingredients. With the help of my brother and his trusty KitchenAid, the Daily Bites was born.
What are your favourite rituals or routines and how have they impacted your day-to-day life?
Anchoring my day in consistent rituals helps me feel more grounded. I start my day with warm water and lemon, after which I drink a cup of coffee and eat my Rootless bite. I like to get in a workout (run, bike or yoga) before starting the work day. The slower the start, the better.
Lately, I’ve realized how valuable these slow starts are for my mental health; without them, I feel frenetic and untethered.
What are some of the benefits of seaweed and what do you wish people knew?
Seaweed is the most nutrient-dense and diverse food on the planet! Like land veggies, each seaweed species has a slightly different nutrition profile, but broadly contains high-quality protein, dietary and prebiotic fiber, and a host of minerals, vitamins, and bioactives that have been shown to have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidizing properties. The TL;DR: seaweed is the single best thing you could be adding to your diet. Unsurprisingly, communities in Japan and Okinawa that eat seaweed regularly have lower incidence of metabolic syndrome disease and are living longer, healthier lives. Scientists are even examining seaweed’s role in fighting cancer.
So here you have a uniquely nutritious food source that reduces the agricultural burden on land, only requires sunlight and ocean water to grow (i.e. no added fertilizer, pesticides, or even freshwater!), and actively regenerates the environment in which it’s grown. Studies have shown that seaweed deacidifies the ocean, leading to healthier shellfish with thicker shells (oysters + seaweed…name a more iconic duo). Scientists are also evaluating seaweed’s role in locking up atmospheric carbon and its potential to alleviate the impacts of climate change.
And yet, despite all this (waves arms around), few of us are incorporating seaweed into our daily diet. That’s why we launched Rootless and our seaweed-powered Daily Bites to the world.
How did your background working in nonprofits/philanthropy help steer you to where you are today?
Before my seaweed epiphany, I had spent a decade of my career working on international climate and ocean issues across think tanks, academia, and philanthropy. As you can imagine, much of what I learned through that experience was dire. Until I came across seaweed — a rare, bright spot. The more I learned about it, the more I wondered, “Why aren’t more people talking about seaweed????” Eventually, I got so obsessed with seaweed that I quit my job to figure out a way to help us all eat more seaweed — for our health, for the planet, and for coastal communities. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I believe seaweed is transformative.
What are your goals for Rootless moving forward?
In January 2022, we launched the Daily Bite: a tasty, whole food supplement made with unprocessed, organic ingredients: the optimal dose of sustainably sourced seaweed, plus almonds, dates, and seeds. They come in three flavors: Coconut Chai, Orange Pistachio, and Double Strawberry.
We’re using the bites as an anchor to reorient the consumer from thinking about seaweed as the slimy thing you see on the beach or a “just a snack” to a real, potent source of nutrition.
And, the Bites are just the beginning! In the next few years, we will bring to market a range of holistic health and nutrition products that helps people and their families tap into the transformative benefits of seaweed.
On the supply chain end: less than 2% of the seaweed we eat in the US is harvested or cultivated in the country. So we’re helping to build basic supply chain and processing infrastructure that will further the hyperlocal seaweed economy – which will provide more reliable jobs, and more ecosystem services in waters of Maine, Alaska, and hopefully California. On the sustainability end: we will continue to support and help build the narrative of ecosystem services and climate mitigation potential of seaweed farms in the US. it’s simple really: the more seaweed we eat, the more we grow, and the more impact on planetary health we can have.
How do you see seaweed championing the future of sustainable farming, food, and planetary health?
Our food system is making us sick: 6 out of 10 Americans have at least one chronic, preventable disease largely due to nutritional deficiencies. Our food system is making the planet sick: industrial agriculture is devastating our soils, biodiversity, groundwater, and climate.
As populations grow, we need to feed more people more nutritious food with less environmental and climate impact. We found a bright spot in seaweed: a food that is uniquely nutritious, has zero negative environmental impact, and actually gives back to the oceans, atmosphere, and communities around it. That’s why we believe that seaweed is the key to a brighter future for us all.
What does living life ‘shaped by water’ mean to you?
As a founder, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of running a business and putting out fires. I often find myself trying to control things beyond my control – and then wasting mental energy stressing about how I cannot control said things.
I aspire to live life ‘shaped by water’! It is an invaluable reminder to slow down and celebrate the waves and currents that shape you; while they might seem tumultuous and uncontrollable at the time, these moments make you resilient and uniquely you!