Many people are looking for sources of protein to replace meat. The reasons vary from dietary and cultural preferences to ecological and animal welfare concerns. In addition, we face the challenge of feeding a global population and must come up with an effective solution. Today, we decided to take a look at a protein source that might be quite unexpected for many – algae.
Surprising for some of us, algae consumption on the European Atlantic coasts and in Asia can be traced back to pre-historic times. Algae protein has been gaining momentum in North America and Europe, and one type of algae, spirulina, has been known as a superfood for several years now. Many of you have probably also tasted dried seaweed at least once in your life.
Why is algae so good?
First of all, algae is a rich source of micronutrients, antioxidants and is 40% protein. Secondly, its production doesn’t take a lot of time and requires little resources. The algae grows very fast using sun, air and water — and most of the water is recycled. It can also be harvested year round and on land that is not suited for traditional crops such as within ponds and pools. Furthermore, when grown in sunlight, algae absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air, just like any other plant
What does algae taste like?
Some might expect algae to be stinky, slimy and gross. However, there are hundreds of thousands of strains of algae in the world and algae produced for consumption simply taste salty or do not have any distinct taste at all. Algae is widely used as a new protein ingredient in food products and found in protein bars and powders, green smoothies, food supplements and in a form of green chips.
The main challenge remaining is its price level – algae still costs more than real meat. Various produces across the world, however, are working to bring the price down.
By the way, long before the current efforts to sell algae as food, algae was considered a potential source of biofuel that is also carbon neutral. But this is a whole nother story…
Want to learn more about producing algae and the future of protein in general? Then join us at the Future of Food event! Anneliese Schmidinger, the founder of Helga, a company producing algae superfood, will take part in the Protein of the future panel and share her expertise with us.
Written by Olga Bratsun