How will algae transform our food with nutralence?
by Mark Edwards
Editor’s note: “Algae ingredients will flip calorie dense foods to nutrient dense, adding nutrient diversity and improved bioavailability. The impact on human health and vitality will be significant.”
I am here to sound the alarm about our direction as a human family, especially global warming and rising food prices.
– Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary General
y 2040, Ana’s world will have over 9 billion hungry people competing for nourishment on our increasingly hot, dry and crowded planet. What will Ana’s children do for food? To provide abundant affordable and sustainable food for everyone, we need a plant that works miracles. This is the story of that single-celled plant.
Many young scientists want to change our world for the better. Please consider this advice: “When planning to orchestrate miracles, choose something that dependably produces miracles. Past behavior provides the best prediction of future behavior. Choose your miracle worker carefully, based on past demonstrated talent and performance.”
The plant in the spotlight here has already delivered five incredible miracles that have substantially changed our world. Algae generated the O2 that enabled life on earth. Then algae became the foundation of the food chain, providing nutrition for all living organisms.
About 500 million years ago, algae experienced an astonishing evolution event that propagated the terrestrial plants that we use for food today. Algae become the mother of all our foods. Algae wisely reserved one miracle for herself – the ability to grow healthier food, significantly faster than terrestrial plants. More recently, algae developed nutralence – algae’s cellular biofactories provided more protein, nutrients and medically bioactive compounds than any other plant on our planet.
Please consider solutions to these questions, which are vital if we are to provide sustainable and affordable good food for our children.
- What is the most important energy stored on earth?
- What is both the first living organism on earth, the most abundant today, and also the youngest?
- Visualize a magnificent 300-foot Sequoia redwood tree that weighs 2.7 million pounds and is 100 feet wide. From where did the giant Sequoia get its biomass?
- Was corn ethanol biofuel a wise strategy for America?
- If you could design an energy storage system from scratch, what is the most efficient, clean and sustainable way to produce affordable stored energy?
Energy stores. The most important energy stored on earth = FOOD! Without food, plants, animals and humans lack the nutrition necessary for energy cellular metabolism and die – quickly. Fossil fuels are useful, but humans lived for thousands of years without burning fossil energy and polluting our planet with greenhouse gasses.
Fossil fuels are simply fossilized algae that settled to the bottom of ancient oceans. The rich biomass folded into the earth and was transformed over eons by extreme pressure and heat into coal, shale, petroleum and natural gas. Now, we burn fossilized ancient algae at our peril since global climate chaos threatens food production.
First, most abundant and newest life. The first living organism on earth were single-celled microorganisms that lacked a cell nucleus or cell membrane, known as prokaryotes. Archeologist have found individual fossilized microbes, probably cyanobacteria, blue-green algae in rocks 3.5 billion years old. Every minute when the sun shines, algae produce mega-trillions of offspring globally, making microbes the most abundant and the youngest life on earth.
Tree biomass. The giant Sequoia get its mass from the same place as a blade of grass, the air. If the tree used nutrients from the soil for building mass, then there would be a big hole when the tree fell over. The tree absorbs CO2 and water to make hydrocarbons that grow the tree’s mass. Photosynthesis, possibly the most important formula to human, animal and plant life, is beautifully simple.
U.S. Biofuel strategy. The 2008 Energy Act funded $288 billion in transfer payments to biofuel producers over five years. The Act was possibly the most foolish and environmentally disastrous decision ever made by the US Congress. BioWar I: Why Burning Food for Fuels Leads to World Hunger, follows the substantial money trail, which led to a few big ag companies that bought Congressional votes to enrich themselves, especially ADM and CEO Dwayne Andreas.
Throughout military history, burning food was an offensive act of war designed to punish the opposition. The US became the first country in history unwise enough to burn its own food. Biofuel production did indeed lead to world hunger. Reducing world food stores by burning US corn caused price increases of 50 to 120%, and led to more than 40 food riots globally. The food riots left hundreds of people dead but many millions were still unable to afford sufficient food for their family.
Biofuel production from corn robbed our next generation of billions of tons of natural resources – topsoil, water, fossil fuels, inorganic fertilizers and agricultural chemicals. When, in the next generation the Ogallala aquifer, the Midwest’s largest, goes dry, many residents will have to move to other regions, because no fresh water will be available. Our children’s assessment of this US biofuel strategy will be much harsher than current critiques.
Sustainable energy storage system. An ideal eco-smart energy system would mimic nature and cycle nutrients as many times as possible. The storage system would use the power of the sun in photosynthesis for energy production. The system may grow single or multicellular organisms that grow quickly and efficiently in non-potable water. The process should recover and reuse waste stream nutrients from air, water and solids, while producing nutritious and healthy food.
The energy system should consume minimal or no fossil resources, fertile land, fresh water, fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers, pesticides or poison. Photosynthesis allows the system to be energy neutral. Nutrient cycling provides the system with a positive carbon and ecological footprint.
A global food model, developed by a team at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute in the UK, shows that business-as-usual agriculture is unsustainable. The model concludes that failing a change in course by 2040, the global food supply system will face catastrophic losses, with an unprecedented epidemic of food riots, and possibly wars. Other credible models predict food disasters between 2030 and 2050 due to the combined impacts of population increases, climate chaos and natural resource extinction.
Need for More and Better Food
FAO scientists predict the world will need 70% more food production by 2040. The foundation of modern industrial agriculture, (MIA) rests on fossil energy. Unfortunately, MIA consumes over 10 times the energy that it returns in food. Does the planet have enough fossil fuels to double food production? What will happen to MIA food production as the cost of fossil energy increases? How will farmers be able to afford crop inputs that are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive?
Our planet may not have the remaining natural resources to sustain current food production, let alone increase food substantially. The best chance we have to assure the survival of our next generations are major changes in MIA methods. Algae-based bioproducts can assist with this transition by cycling nutrients, cutting fossil resource consumption and repairing degraded ecosystems. Step one is provision of nutrients.
Nutrient deficiencies not protein
During the 40 years following WWII, nutritional scientists believed that protein deficiency was the most serious and widespread dietary deficiency in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) made its prime objective improving protein nutrition. The condition was called “kwashiorkor”. The word came from the Ga language of West Africa that means “the disease of the deposed child.”
Medical science discovered that protein deficiency was not the problem. When it occurred, it was caused by a simple lack of food, rather than food with low-protein content. The major challenge for resolving world hunger is not more protein, but a solution to the seemingly intractable problem, nutrient deficiencies.
Algae provide an uplifting model for human food because these nano-plants can provide the protein and micronutrients to resolve the most serious cause of global malnutrition – nutrient deficiencies. The four most prevalent deficiency diseases are: malnutrition, nutritional anemia (iron and B12 deficiency), exophthalmia (vitamin A deficiency) and endemic goiter (iodine deficiency). Some digestible algae such as spirulina, address each of these issues through the production of high protein, iron and B12, vitamin A and iodine. The Kanembu tribe in Chad has been harvesting naturally occurring spirulina from lakes and eating about 10 grams per serving with most of their meals for centuries, with positive results.
Algae produces protein substantially more efficiently than conventional food grains. Algae produce a higher protein yield per unit area, 15 tons/Ha/year compared to terrestrial crops, such as soybean, pulse legumes, and wheat that produce only 0.6–1.2 tons/Ha/year. Superior protein production is only one benefit.
Due to their harsh environment and phototropic life, algae are often exposed to high oxidative and free-radical stresses. Algae have evolved natural protective systems, such as the production of pigments, (e.g., carotenes, chlorophylls, and phycobiliproteins) and polyphenols (e.g., catechins, flavonols, and phlorotannins), which impart health benefits to plants, animals and people when eaten.
Spirulina, the most highly consumed algae food, provides the highest protein content of any whole food, plus many additional nutritional benefits. Adding spirulina to a diet provides anti-hypertension, anti-hyperlipidemia, renal protective, and anti-hyperglycemic benefits.
Spirulina provides a rich source of proteins, 63% by dry weight (dw), and contains high levels of hypocholesterolemia γ-linoleic acid, (GLA), B-vitamins, and free-radical scavenging phycobilins-proteins. Spirulina’s high nutralence has earned the label of a ‘super food’ by the WHO. NASA sent spirulina to space to support astronauts’ diet for its high nutralence and ability to clean wastewater.
Algae acting alone?
Could Ana possibly feed the world with single-celled organisms such as algae? These unique cells form the foundation of the food chain and they grow so fast they could feed the world. But prior experience show acting alone may not be the best solution. The idea to cultivate enough algae to feed the world has been proposed by dozens of scientists and science fiction writers since 1898. Four times countries have seriously examined algae production for food: in 1898 after severe global famine; after each of the World Wars when millions of people were displaced, poor and hungry; and then again 1996. The last bubble centered on growing algae for biofuels.
Algae acting alone to provide food for the world was the plot for the 1973 science fiction movie Soylent Green, set in 2022. Soylent Green anticipated the challenges industrial agriculture has imposed on our world today: widespread hunger, pollution, overcrowding, and global warming. Algae food production became the solution. Soylent Green was a green wafer advertised to contain “high-energy plankton” from the firm World Ocean. In the movie Charlton Heston’s character discovered dead people were being recycled to make Soylent Green, and he led the team that stopped the big machine making it. A remake of Soylent Green would set the algae industry back a generation.
Real-life solutions need to be far broader than simply creating a single food for billions of hungry people. The food system needs to employ biodiversity, with single and multi-cellular organisms. Biodiversity will reduce food production risk and increase sustainability. The system must engage global farmers in a symbiotic fashion that leverages the benefits of single-celled organisms and makes industrial agriculture better. The first challenge is understanding the novel benefits available from these organisms.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International estimates there are about 350,000 species of land plants. The best-selling algae textbook, estimates there are over 10 million species of algae. Fewer than 10% of all algae species have been discovered or analyzed . Therefore, extraordinary entrepreneurial opportunities exist for microfarmers willing and dedicated to growing algae.
Algae Lifts Agriculture
Algae will make the strongest impact on existing industrial agriculture. Algae microfarms using abundance growing methods will provide multiple solutions for each of fossil agriculture’s dilemmas.
Bioregeneration gives many options to farmers for new bioproducts. Restoring the captured nutrients to manufacture value-added products flips farmers’ waste-stream costs to a valuable new revenue source. The bioproduct choices with algae biomass are practically infinite.
Farmers can give their precious nutrients a second, (and 3rd, 4th, …n) life. Cycling nutrients may be the #1 benefit algae delivers to farmers. Algae solves the non-trivial waste and pollution challenge with algae’s unique bioremediation ability to cycle nutrients. Nutrient recovery not only ends waste but also reduces farmer’s costs. The combination of bioremediation and bioregeneration can assist farmers to move from industrial farming to organic production.
Farmers can use their own waste streams to cultivate algae biofertilizer. Algae biofertilizer improves farm yields and quality for commercial crops as well as increases the nutralence of farm produce. Equally important, algae biofertilizers substantially reduce waste and pollution. Algae’s unique talent for cycling nutrients and enhancing cellular metabolism make significant contributions to the global food system, on which we all depend.
Fortunately, cellular metabolism in animals responds as positively as plants do to algae nutralence. Algae biofeeds improve the health, speed of growth and stress tolerance of farm animals – dairy, meat, poultry and fish. Biofeeds enhance the color, taste, texture, color and nutralence of animal products. Farmers can reduce their cost of production by using abundance methods and cycling nutrients for biofeed rather than continually buying new animal feed.
Algae components serve as ingredients for many modern foods. As supply increases, more foods will improve taste, texture, color, odor, and astringency. Algae can amplify basic tastes, including sweet, sour, bitter, salty and especially umami, (wholesomeness, brothy or meaty).
Many Asian recipes add algae to amplify the umami taste. The umami taste bud is so significant, it lies at the center of the tongue. Algae ingredients also upgrade the kokumi taste, which translates to mouthfulness or heartiness. Similarly, algae ingredients can enhance, piquancy, (spicy taste), coolness, and new tastes that are waiting for discovery and classification.
Algae’s incredibly high nutralence will fortify and transform many modern foods into functional foods. Functional foods enhance health and vitality by providing benefits beyond that of the traditional nutrients it contains. Functional foods may include cereals, breads, beverages, bars, soups, stews or meats that are fortified with vitamins, herbs, and nutraceuticals. Healthier algae oils with omega-3 fatty acids will replace seed and olive oils. Algae-based functional foods will allow people to consumer their entire set of nutritional supplements in the food they eat.
Pure algae foods will find large niche markets. Algae will replace soy, corn, wheat, barley and other food grains to make healthier foods without the allergens. Algae protein bars, beverages and vegetable meat replacements will deliver a higher density of nutrients per bite and more nutrient diversity, along with enhanced bioavailability. The broader nutrient diversity includes many micronutrients not available in today’s conventional foods, especially vitamins and minerals. These products will be marketed as plant-based, vegan, Kosher, no gluten, no soy, no dairy, non-GMO and non-allergenic.
At the apex of the algae food pyramid, freedom foods will improve nutrition and taste without pollution and waste. Freedom foods are algae-based products grown with no or minimal fossil resources. This new food category will be superior to organic because freedom foods delivery higher nutralence and taste with a fraction of the ecological footprint associated with industrial or organic foods. Freedom foods preserve the earth’s natural resources for future generations.
Algae Food — Present and Future State
The algae industry today is so tiny, it cannot yet lift agriculture. The good news is that every solution Ana intends to use, (and is described here), has been invented and tested, at least at the laboratory level. No one has produced a single meal of freedom food, using no or minimal fossil resources. We are working to produce net-zero carbon foods without consuming fossil resources. When freedom foods are demonstrated, everyone will want eco-smart foods that are healthier and deliver better taste and higher nutralence.
As demonstration projects convey the substantial value proposition, more farmers will engage, diffusing microfarm installations. As the market reports success, algae bioproduct market share will flip from zero, in 2017, to the following predictions for 2040:
Algae solutions will first lift fossil food agricultural modestly, because most of the solutions are not yet commercially available. As demonstration projects show the substantial benefits, entrepreneurs will embrace the opportunities and supply scalable solutions for diffusion. The path will follow the R3D model – R&D, demonstration and diffusion.
Algae’s rich nutrients will fortify conventional foods, e.g. food grains and meat, with higher nutralence. People will be ecstatic when they can have their cake and eat it too – because the cake tastes great, yet has substantially fewer calories and minimal fat. Algae ingredients will flip calorie dense foods to nutrient dense, adding nutrient diversity and improved bioavailability. The impact on human health and vitality will be significant.
Adoption of algae nutrient cycling will occur quickly as cycling with solar energy and photosynthesis provides a game changer for farmers and the environment. Consumers will convert to algae cosmetics quickly as people learn algae offer a denser, healthier nutrient package. Algae nano-cells provide an ideal cosmetic delivery package that easily penetrates skin and hair. Algae’s strong antioxidants repair skin damage and soften wrinkles.
Consumers will prefer vegetarian-based nutraceuticals. Algae’s high nutralence is unmatched by other nutraceutical options. Fish oil users will celebrate the substantial benefits of omega-3 fatty acids made from algae, rather than killing the fish.
Most medicines today are made from plants or animals, which is costly and takes a long time. Often, massive amounts of the plant or animal material must be produced in order to get tiny amounts of the target compound for a medicine. The target compounds are often contaminated and must be purified before becoming an approved medicine.
Algae target medical compounds can be produced in days rather than months. Algae production will be substantially less expensive than other materials. Algae will typically produce far more of the target medical compound per kilo, with no or minimal contaminants. Algae production also requires only a tiny fraction of the space or other resources needed to grow plants or animals. Algae-based medicines will take off as medical science moves hundreds of algae-medical in-vitro studies from animals to human trials.
Carbon capture and reutilization will find an expanding niche in agriculture, as well as all the fossil fuel industries. Photosynthetic algae provide the lowest cost method to capture carbon for sequestration or for reuse. Algae biofertilizer will replace over half of the chemical fertilizers use today. MIA farmers are driven by yields and costs. Algae’s high nutralent package for crops improves yields and produces quality. Biofertilizer cycles carbon and other nutrients, avoiding the high costs associated with mining and transporting agricultural chemicals long distances. Cycling nutrients makes algae biofertilizer sustainable.
Biofeed diffusion will occur more slowly due to the variety in animal nutrition. Ruminants, such as cows, bison, sheep and goats each require different feed formulations. Algae biofeed for farmed fish will probably approach 95% by 2040, because wild fish feed on algae in their natural habitat.
By 2025, chefs will be using 3D printers to construct algae based meats, tasting like beef, lamb, pork, goat, chicken, turkey, fish and new taste choices. When consumers can select healthier and tastier steaks that do not sacrifice animals, they will choose algae-based meat products. It will also help that the algae product costs half as much as the legacy animal meat.
The first algae-based human foods will be functional foods that deliver healthier proteins, oils, carbohydrates and bioactive compounds.
Compared with conventional products, healthier and more nutritious algae oil, colorants and flour entered the market in 2017. Of course, consumers will have additional choices. Some people may select tissue-cultured meats, but those products will have the same health issues that accompany meat consumption today. Others may choose insect protein foods, but marketers must overcome a non-trivial gag factor.
The great irony may be that both tissue culture and insect meats will need nutrients to grow. Both will probably use the highest nutralence source – algae.
The Substantial Nutralence Advantage
Terrestrial plants made two enormous sacrifices after they evolved from algae, one caused by nature, and one caused intentionally by humans. Nature required plants to support several new energetically demanding features – roots, stems, leaves and a sexual apparatus. A plant has only the limited energy it can capture from the sun.
How the precious solar energy becomes distributed, determines its growth and food production efficiency. Land plants sacrificed efficiency in capturing photons from the sun because prior cells shaded new cells. Their ability to grow food efficiently tanked, because they had to distribute their limited energy among competing tasks, most of which had nothing to do with food production. Roots demanded energy for deeper growth and still more energy to pump nutrients from the roots through the plant. Stems commandeered energy as they made demands for vertical growth. The leaves called for energy so that they could expand and capture new photons. On top of all these demands, the plant had to invest about a third of its total energy into sex; both the physical sexual apparatus and preparing for mates or pollination.
The sacrifice created by human-directed hybrids was simple, but had significant impact on food quality. Humans have been growing plants as food crops for over 11,000 years. Farmers’ primary goal has been higher yields, which produces more food. Seldom have farmers been willing to sacrifice yield for nutralence. For nearly all of human history, food nutralence was not measurable. Farmers are smart and saved seeds from the strongest or largest plants for next year’s crop. Plants were bred for size or yield weight, with almost no consideration for nutralence.
Modern industrial farmers know the value of nutrient density. However, in order to maximize profits, they grow crops to maximize yield, not nutralence. The next generation of consumers will change the status quo and demand high nutralence foods.
Algae-based foods have a compelling set of competitive advantages over land plants and animal products, which is apparent in nutralence metrics. Succulents are plants that selectively absorb water. Plants high in nutralence aggressively absorb, manufacture and store protein and a diverse set of other nutrients. Algae waste no energy on superfluous body functions. All their energy focuses on nutrient production.
Nutralence includes five important food compositional attributes: nutrient quality, density, diversity, bioactive compounds and nutrient bioavailability. People and animals are what they eat, so the composition of their food plays a significant role in their health and vitality.
Nutrient quality includes the full set of nutrients provided per bite. Both land plants and algae may contain incomplete proteins due to a lack of certain amino acids, so that metric is important. Typically, algae foods provide 10 to 100 times more micronutrients than land plants. Algae based foods also have 10 to 100 times more nutrient density than land plants. This may seem impossible except for the inconvenient truth about MIA’s problems of nutrient dilution and hidden hunger.
Three recent nutrient dilution studies examined by Donald Davis at the University of Texas Biochemical Institute, looked at historical food composition data and found declines of 5% to 40% or more in some minerals in groups of vegetables and fruits. Another study evaluated vitamins and protein with similar results.
Another telling nutrient dilution metric is the high-water content of fruits and vegetables. Most fruits contain over 92% water, as do many vegetables. Cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, tomato radish and celery are comprised of 95% water. Other veggies containing over 90% water include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, peppers and spinach. After accounting for the considerable non-edible cell wall material, fruits and vegetables simply have little physical material to provide nutrients.
Many modern processed foods are calorie dense, but nutritionally poor, which causes hidden hunger. Hidden hunger causes children to become obese because they are malnourished from consuming the wrong types of foods. Hidden hunger robs billions of people globally the opportunity to reach their full potential. According the FDA, 85% of Americans do not consume the recommended daily intakes of the most important vitamins and minerals necessary for proper physical and mental development. More than half of American children do not get enough of vitamins D and E, while more than a quarter do not get enough calcium, magnesium or vitamin A, according to a recent Journal of Nutrition study. Hidden hunger can result in a compromised immune system, stunted physical growth, reduced mental ability, chronic disease and even death.
Moreover, algae-based foods have 10 to 100 times more nutrient diversity than foods made from land plants. The nutralence in spirulina is evident when compared with terrestrial foods with the highest levels of key nutrients. Bite for bite, spirulina has 180% more calcium than milk, 670% more protein than soy tofu, 3,100% more β-carotene than carrots, 2,200% more vitamin C than tomatoes, and 5,100% more iron than spinach. Algae-based foods can provide up to 77 different macro and micronutrients, vitamins, trace elements and over 200 bioactive compounds. Plant-based foods are afflicted with hidden hunger and generally provide only a small fraction of nutrient diversity delivered by algae.
Bioactive compounds are produced in plants as secondary metabolites. These are not essential for the daily functioning of the plant, such as growth, but play a significant role in competition, defense, repair, attraction and signaling. The plant’s bioactive compounds pass the bioactive benefits to the consumer, which may be another plant, animal or human. These substantial benefits are covered in later chapters.
Izabela Michalak and Katarzyna Chojnacka at the Department of Advanced Material Technologies, Wrocław University of Technology, Poland, published an excellent article describing the diversity of bioactive compounds that algae produces. Bioactive compounds provide both protection from health threats, (viruses and bacteria), as well as treatments.
Algae produce pigments, such as carotenoids, (carotene, xanthophyll), chlorophylls and phycobilins, (phycocyanin, phycoerythrin). These pigments contain a variety of antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties. Algae manufacture large quantities of antioxidants, polyphenols, tocopherols, vitamins and mycosporine-like amino acids that provide vital cellular protection and repair.
Eating high-nutrient foods is a waste of energy if the nutrients are not bioavailable for absorption in body tissues. A major problem with many nutraceutical supplements in pills, bars or shakes is that the nutrients are not bioavailable, and they cannot or do not pass through the intestinal wall. Algae cells are very tiny, 5µ, (microns) and flow through the intestinal wall easily. Plant cells are 2 to 20 times larger, and many nutrients may not be absorbed by the body at all. Algae foods may require pre-processing to break down strong cell walls in order to achieve high bioavailability.
Validity – Real or fake claims?
Validity is critical in the algae industry. Scientists use various forms of validity to determine whether something is true or not. Unfortunately, many claims about algae are exaggerated and invalid. The Algae Biomass Organization chartered the Technical Standards Committee with Lieve Laurens, (Chair), Keith Cooksey, Jim Spears, Craig Behnke, Amha Belay, and others. The committee examines valid metrics and creates a biannual report; Industrial Algae Measurements.
Several types of validity are used for different purposes. Predictive validity measures how close a prediction was to the actual event. My predictions in the previous chart, “Algae bioproducts market share in 20 years,” will be determined to be correct or not by phycology and food technology scientists in 2040.
Construct validity evaluates the degree to which an assessment measures what it claims. Nutralence provides a good example of construct validity. Nutralence is a new construct in food science because it was only invented in 2011 to explain the nutritional attributes of algae that are different from land plants or meat. Several years of testing algae-based foods, biofeeds, and biofertilizers will determine the degree to which this nutralence construct serves as a valid measure. Scientists often tweak new constructs around the edges to make them better.
Face validity measures the extent to which an assessment is subjectively viewed as covering the concept it purports to measure. It refers to the transparency or relevance of a metrics as it appears to those who use it. An example is a NASA analysis that concluded that one kg of the algae food, spirulina, contains more nutrients than an assortment of 1,000 kg of fruits and vegetables. The fact that this claim resides on several hundred web-sites does not improve its face validity, or its credibility. It appears on its face, to be an exaggeration. Mahasin Tadros, at Alabama A&M University, who wrote the article did not explain how he came to his ebullient conclusion.
The only way the 1:1000 metric works is to divide by zero. He may have compared the substantial number of bioactive compounds and enzymes in spirulina to all the land plants that contain none of those specialized compounds. He could have reported that one kg spirulina exceeded a million kg of vegetables and fruits, but that would undermine the face validity. Who would believe such an extreme metric?
The extraordinary nutralence algae provide serves as the springboard for algae’s contribution to agriculture and world food. Neither terrestrial plants nor animal products provide more than a minute fraction of the nutralence algae delivers. Modern industrial foods lack nutrient density and nutrient diversity. As a result, current foods impose nutrient dilution and hidden hunger on people, creating the costly and painful epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart and many follow-on diseases.
Modern foods provide practically no bioactive compounds because they have been hybridized, (or genetically engineered), to maximize produce yield, with a metric for weight; not nutrient quality, density, diversity or bioactive compounds. Without sufficient nutrients or bioactive compounds, more than 70% of US consumers eating the “western diet” are overweight or obese. Substantial biomedical and clinical evidence suggests that chronic overconsumption of foods with high levels of sugars and fats, but low in nutrients, results in obesity. Algae foods provide superior food low in fat but nutrient dense.
Algae can produce healthier protein and other nutrients many times faster than terrestrial crops. Algae offers the unique advantage of nutrient cycling, which not only preserves increasingly scarce natural resources, but also reduces the cost of production for farmers. While algae deliver healthier food, this incredible plant can clean and repair, rather than degrade and pollute ecosystems.
The next installment will examine the unique attributes that will enable single-celled organisms to boost global food production.