Edible algae—coming to a rooftop near you?

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On a hotel rooftop in Bangkok, dozens of barrels of green liquid bubble under the sun—the latest innovation in urban farming.


Proponents of the edible algae known as spirulina say it could help provide a sustainable source of protein as an alternative to meat.

Three times a week, Patsakorn Thaveeuchukorn harvests the green algae in the barrels.

"The algae is growing so fast, normally the doubling time is around 24 hours," said Patsakorn, whose employer EnerGaia uses Bangkok's rooftops to grow spirulina.

With its high levels of protein and nutrients, "it is beneficial to food security," he told AFP.

"If you compare it to meat it will take six months to grow a kilogram of beef, but this we can grow in a week," said Patsakorn.

Spirulina has been described by health food experts as a super-food, and it is becoming more popular worldwide.

Rosa Rolle from the UN's food and agriculture organisation (FAO) says it has been an important food source for centuries.
 

"It grows naturally in Lake Texcoco in Mexico. It was eaten by the Incas," she told AFP. "It's in many countries that border Lake Chad in West Africa and is a protein source for a lot of people."

However she warns that it can lead to health problems for people suffering from gout, as it produces a lot of uric acid, and says people need to be educated about spirulina's positive and negative effects before they consume it.

Written By: William Davies
continue to source article at phys.org

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    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Where do the minerals come from? I tried eating this stuff. It is quite revolting. Perhaps it could be used as an animal feed.

      What makes it revolting? Is it the slimy texture? The article says there is no taste, though perhaps it is that which makes it revolting, like eating slime.

      I’m very interested in adding it to my diet as a protein source if it turns out to have no bad side effects. It seems to be extremely environmentally friendly, it would be an industry with virtually no ‘footprint’ and a boon to protein starved nations.
      If it is so tasteless, why not mix it with mashed potatoes and a little wasabi? How about salted spirulina chips or sweet spirulina ice cream? Spirulina with scrambled eggs? You see? The possibilities add up.

  1. ‘”If you compare it to meat it will take six months to grow a kilogram of beef, but this we can grow in a week,” said Patsakorn.’

    Really? Are you sure?

    That must be one Anorexic Cow.

  2. My experience with cow-calf operations tells me that these people are off by a couple of orders of magnitude on estimates of weight gain and then some. Most calves will have gained 200 kg after 6 months.

    • In reply to #8 by BananasForEveryone:

      Ah, yes, protein. Because that’s what American’s are deficient on.

      You’ve obviously missed the point. It is being considered as a meat substitute, or an inexpensive, low-impact source of protein for countries who do not have much protein available, for whatever reason.

      • In reply to #9 by justinesaracen:

        In reply to #8 by BananasForEveryone:

        Ah, yes, protein. Because that’s what American’s are deficient on.

        You’ve obviously missed the point. It is being considered as a meat substitute, or an inexpensive, low-impact source of protein for countries who do not have much protein available, for whateve…

        “inexpensive” , take a look at the online prices for the stuff,

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