Edible seaweeds have significant potential to contribute to sustainable diets that promote health of Pacific Islanders in ecologically, economically, and socially acceptable ways. No studies to date have investigated motivators for and the consumption of edible green seaweed from the genus Caulerpa
(sea grapes) in Samoa and Kiribati. An observational, cross-sectional study utilized an interviewer-administered questionnaire to explore consumption behaviors and the role of sea grapes in the current diets of individuals in Samoa and Kiribati. Of the total 145 participants (n = 79, 54.5% Samoa; n = 66, 45.5% Kiribati), half (n = 76, 52%) reported consuming sea grapes. A significantly greater proportion of Samoans (n = 56, 70.9%) reported consumption than I-Kiribati participants (n = 20, 30.3%). A greater proportion of consumers were male (n = 47, 61.8%). Samoan consumers reported consumption of sea grapes with a higher diversity of foods and being related to traditional events or ceremonies. Motivators for consumption varied between countries, with Samoan consumers reporting strong agreement for taste and value for money, and identified sea grapes as nutritious food, as influences on consumption. Easy access was a motivator in Kiribati only. The findings of this study are underpinned by the degree of food security and differences in culture in Samoa and Kiribati. Future public health efforts to integrate traditional fresh food into local food systems will need to work within the existing social parameters in each respective country.
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