Stanford researchers have found that blue foods - a diverse range of aquatic animals, plants and microorganisms can feed more people, improve diets and overcome food system structures that put women, children and the elderly at greater risk.
Many experts believe that by 2050, we will be living in a food crisis – too many people and not enough food to feed them. Whether this stance is true or arguable, it is interesting to think of other ways to find protein, vitamins, and minerals other than the usual beef, poultry, and pork. While those are all great additions to a healthy diet, lots of people today are looking for alternatives to meat products – for health, equity, environmental, religious, and other reasons.
All signs are pointing to algae, and other “blue foods”: these little-known food sources are said to have a higher protein content than the traditional meats most of us have grown up on.
Algae can also be grown without arable (workable) land or freshwater, making is easy to grow in many places. Algae is also great for the environment in that is sucks up carbon emissions – in fact, it reduces carbon 35 times faster than tropical rainforests! Algae and other seagrasses are known to annually soak up 10% of the ocean’s carbon, but it doesn’t take up much room, unlike traditional protein sources. It can be eaten like rice, and made into flour, with more uses that scientists and chefs are just now discovering.
While a fabulous idea, seagrass is not without challenges. Seagrass has been dying off in recent decades.
Scientists have been trying to transplant and grow their own grass, with some success and still trying to find a way to grow enough to supply many people without disrupting natural habitats. Despite the battle to make seagrass as a food source a reality, Ángel León, a chef and culinary innovator in Spain, notes: “If nature gifts you with 3,500kg without doing anything – no antibiotics, no fertiliser, just seawater and movement – then we have a project that suggests one can cultivate marine grain.” He believes that one day, marine grains can become a staple in our diets.
Algae as an alternative food source is just the tip of the iceberg. “Blue foods” are thought to be the food of the future and are a rising trend in the search for ethical and sustainable nutrient suppliers.
Stanford researchers have found that “blue foods” - a “diverse range of aquatic animals, plants and microorganisms” can “feed more people, improv[e] diets and overcom[e] food system structures that put women, children and the elderly at greater risk.” Looking past land crops and animals and into the water could save millions of lives and provide a better quality of life for everyone.
People around the word face what is known as micronutrient deficiencies – basically, people are either consuming foods that offer very little nutritional content or are not getting access to nutritional foods.
A diet lacking in nutrients can cause heart disease, fatigue, and more. The Stanford researchers have discovered that “blue foods” are rich in both micronutrients and fatty acids – improving both heart-health and overall health. If a way can be found to tap into these sources, we could all live in an equitable world where everyone has equal access to quality proteins and nutrients… how cool would that be?
Though overlooked in the past, we are now at a crossroads in the world – we need to make changes, and fast. Innovative ideas like “blue foods” give hope that we can survive beyond traditional - and familiar - ways of living. Would you try algae, or other “blue foods”? Let us know in the comments or drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
*Note: always contact your doctor before adding new foods to your diet. This article is for entertainment purposes only. Never eat blue-green algae.
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