Algae May be the New Popcorn. And Pasta. And Bacon.

Algae is making its way from underneath of the ocean to your kitchen cabinet.

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So you’ve got your leafy vegetables and hearty legumes down pat. But in the event that you haven’t already, there’s a different type of green you may consider adding to your daily diet: algae.

Yes, the slimy items that grows in bodies of water is remarkably edible – and nutritious. And it’s nearly a fresh addition to the culinary world. Seaweed is merely algae that grows in the ocean, and if you’ve ever enjoyed sushi or miso soup, you understand how tasty the marine plant could be. All different types of seaweed are commonly found in food, from nori (that’s what your sushi is wrapped in), wakame, and kelp – often found in salads and soups – to agar and carrageenan, used as thickening and binding agents in lots of plant-based foods. Exact nutritional properties vary by type, of course, but overall, edible seaweed is commonly extremely dense in nutrients needed by the body.

Other kinds of algae have grown to be common supplements and food ingredients recently, especially spirulina and its own derivative E3 blue majik. In medical food corner of Instagram, you’ve probably seen the proliferation of smoothies and other beverages in stunningly saturated shades of blue and green. That’s because furthermore to its fun and unusual color, there is evidence to claim that algae offers a complete host of health advantages, from its impressive antioxidant and B vitamin content to its surprising protein density. It’s even been found to have possible antivirus, anti-cancer, and anti-allergy properties worth further study.

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Experiencing a historical innovation

Again, none of the is new. Spirulina was known and utilized by the Aztecs, and was reintroduced to popular culture today by NASA. There certainly are a host of innovative companies and food scientists finding clever and novel uses for algae inside our modern diets. As we search for methods to nourish the world’s growing population while mitigating environmentally friendly impacts of our food systems, the slimy green aquatic plant might just be considered a problem solver. It’s little wonder that the algae industry is likely to grow from its estimated $717,140,000 valuation in 2018 to a predicted $1,365,800,00 in 2027. There’s a lot more than seaweed salads and smoothie bowls decreasing the pike.

One company was already praised because of its simple, but apparently genius usage of seaweed. AKUA’s kelp jerky has been named an Invention of the entire year for Sustainability by TIME Magazine and by Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards. The snacks, aside from being tasty, are saturated in protein, iron, and B vitamins. And why is them notable from a sustainability perspective is that the kelp used is farmed regeneratively: It offers habitat for aquatic life, protects the coast from storms, and absorbs carbon from the water.

Some companies are making simple and subtle swaps to include algae into foods we know and love. Pop Zero Popcorn makes their products – simply flavored popcorn – with one unique difference: algae oil instead of sunflower oil or even more commonly used vegetable oils. As well as the vitamins, protein, and omega-3s within algae oil, Pop Zero boasts that their algae oil-popped corn is leaner in fats and higher in monounsaturated fats than more traditional products.

Paying mind to environmentally friendly impact of where our food originates from, Pop Zero also uses algae oil since it includes a dramatically higher crop yield per acre than other plant-based oils, like coconut and canola. So it’s not only a better-for-you snack choice, it’s a far more economical usage of land aswell.

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Not only sustainable, but regenerative

Actually, algae requires remarkably few resources to grow. Furthermore to low land needs, in addition, it doesn’t require fresh water, fertilizers, or pesticides. One company, Cascadia Seaweed, has seized onto this and has made their business cultivating seaweed for a number of uses, from food to packaging. Cascadia argues that the cultivation of seaweed can create habitats for other marine life, consume excess ocean nutrients, and perhaps even mitigate ocean acidification. Based on the company, the procedure of seaweed cultivation isn’t just lower in negative impact, it actually includes a net positive effect on the surroundings.

Cascadia is dealing with companies in every different sectors to transform their cultivated seaweed for several uses: ready-to-eat fresh, dried, and frozen seaweed options, along with flavorings and binding ingredients in industrial preparing food, and even altogether non-food uses like cosmetics and eco-friendly packaging. Back of the Yards Algae Sciences is another startup that’s developing algae products for use as plant-based protein food supplementation along with food coloring, along with non-food uses like agricultural biostimulants. Their lab, which is situated in Chicago, targets developing commercially viable uses for algae derivatives.

But even while inventors look a lot more broadly at the potential uses of algae, they keep returning to food. The Dutch startup Seamore has produce a range of tasty products made partially or entirely of seaweed. Their chips, wraps, pasta, and “bacon” offer highly nutritious, plant-based options to sub for the starchy and fatty foods we love – while still packing a flavorful punch.

In today’s world, virtually everyone includes a little both foodie and health nut in them. It appears likely that we’ll only see progressively more companies trying to marry taste and nutrition, along with convenience, affordability, practicality, and other consumer concerns. Algae is still an integral ingredient in foods and other products designed for the contemporary consumer, all while balancing the needs of our threatened planet.

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