It’s definitely not an understatement to say we’re crazy about algae! But why?
Well...you have come to the right place! Algae is the ULTIMATE food! There’s a ton of different reasons why you should be incorporating it into your diet, especially if you are plant-based, and we’re going to break them down for you here!
First, let’s address the elephant in the room. What is algae? Algae is a term that encompasses a large (we’re talking millions) and diverse group of photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms. We know, it’s a lot of weird, complicated words. Essentially, they are organisms that produce their own food from sunlight, just like plants! The different types of algae range from single celled beings (those would be microalgaes) to large multicellular organisms (these are macroalgaes), like seaweed. Yes, seaweed is a type of algae!! Algae is everywhere, it makes up two-thirds of the Earth’s biomass, which means two-thirds of all living things on Planet Earth are algae! 4
We specialize in spirulina algae. Technically speaking, it’s a blue-green cyanobacteria. Spirulina is a freshwater microalgae, meaning it is a single celled organism found in freshwater that dries as a fine powder. This powder is often sold as protein powder or a supplementary powder to mix into smoothies, oatmeal, or whatever other fun food you’re eating! You can find our spirulina powder here.
But why are people consuming it? I still don’t get it?!
Consuming spirulina leads to a plethora of benefits. We’ve chosen to use this type of algae for many reasons including: its production process, its environmental impact, and its fantastic nutrition profile.
It is super easy to grow
Spirulina is unbelievably easy to grow! It requires little maintenance and can grow in pools of water almost anywhere! We’re talking in labs, in vertical farms, even in the desert! Yes, you read that right, the desert. Where nothing grows except for the lone cacti and some tumbleweed. And spirulina has an incredibly high yield- it can go from farm to table in 8 hours. That means that everyday you can do 3 FULL harvests of spirulina.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed shortages in the food industry, specifically in the meat industry. Millions of people were unable to access the food they needed to maintain a balanced diet. Additionally, millions of people in North America are food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. An ingredient like spirulina is the perfect solution to both aforementioned problems because of its versatility, accessibility, and numerous benefits for us and for the planet.
Great for the planet
Did you know that the agriculture industry contributes 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions?! That’s over a quarter! It also uses much of the world’s finite resources including arable land and water, results in a loss of biodiversity (think deforestation in the Amazon) and causes damage to surrounding bodies of water and ecosystems! It’s crazy to think that an industry so essential to human life can be so detrimental to the planet. We can all do our part to fight food-based climate change; eating locally and eating less meat are great ways to decrease your personal food footprint. If you are interested in learning more about the environmental impact of food production, check out this awesome article by two amazing researchers!
But how does this climate change and greenhouse gas emissions relate to spirulina? For one, spirulina is super efficient to grow! Remember, it has a crazy high yield and can grow on non-arable land, like the desert. This means that rather than destroying ecosystems like fields and forests to grow spirulina, it can grow on land that would otherwise be unusable, even for other purposes like building towns and cities. This is in extreme opposition to traditional food production, which uses over half of the world’s habitable land! So, by consuming spirulina you’re helping to preserve rainforests, balanced ecosystems, and the world’s wilderness.
The agriculture industry is responsible for 70% of freshwater withdrawals, meaning 70% of the world’s freshwater is used to grow our food. We think this is absolutely nuts! By comparison, growing spirulina allows 95% of the water used for its production to be reused! This means less water usage and water waste and more freshwater available for the rest of the world.
And, even though it’s technically not a plant, it has all the benefits of plants that we love! Spirulina has a 2:1 carbon capture ratio--this means that every gram of spirulina produces 2 grams of oxygen and consumes 2 grams of carbon dioxide. To put that into perspective, one IMPACT bar contains 7 grams of spirulina, which consumes 14 grams of carbon dioxide and produces 14 grams of oxygen.
High nutrition profile
We don’t just LOVE spirulina for it’s sustainable benefits--it’s nutrition profile is next level impressive! It is packed with nutrients, and we really mean PACKED! It’s 70% complete protein- meaning it is one of only a handful of plant sources that provides all the essential amino acids- which is why it is so great for people following plant based diets. It is also incredibly high in iron, with 1 teaspoon of spirulina providing 8-10% of your daily iron, so it's great for those who have low iron levels or are anemic. Some doctors and dieticians recommend spirulina rather than iron tablets because it’s a natural source of iron and is a lot nicer on your stomach! It is also high in many other essential vitamins and minerals, including omegas, vitamin E, B vitamin complexes and many many more!
And it’s great for athletes! Spirulina is high in antioxidants which helps with recovery from exercise. It has been well established through research that spirulina is great at reducing high levels of inflammation throughout the body, including inflammation resulting from a strenuous workout! Consuming spirulina daily also helps to prevent muscle damage caused by exercise and reduce lactate levels which means a longer time to exhaustion. 11 Two separate studies were done with long distance runners to see the effects of spirulina. In both studies, they found that the time to exhaustion in a 2 hour run was longer in those who took spirulina over those who supplemented with other protein sources. It was also found to decrease carbohydrate oxidation and increase fat oxidation. This is important because we have greater fat stores than carbohydrate stores, meaning more energy available during long duration activities like running and cycling! 8 Overall, taking spirulina daily helped to improve exercise performance in the athletes studied!
The Amazing Health Benefits
On top of improving athletic performance, spirulina offers a plethora of health benefits. So much so that people are taking compressed tablets or even mixing spirulina with water (despite the nutritional benefits, we don’t enjoy the taste of spirulina mixed with water, but hey some people do) to get all nutritional benefits.
*Please note, we are not making any claims about health effects of spirulina, simply stating findings from peer reviewed scientific papers*
The oldest (and newest?) superfood
We’ve already talked about how blue-green algae was one of the first photosynthesizing (produces its own energy from sunlight!) organisms on the planet. And since it’s been around for a lot longer than humans, it makes sense that people have been eating it for thousands of years. There is a tale from Vietnam from a thousand years ago that rice farmers would make sure blue-green algae was in the rice paddies to ensure they had a healthier crop and a higher yield. On Lake Chad, in central Africa, people would collect blue-green algae from the shores and sun dry the algae into hardened cakes called dihe to be eaten in sauces, with meat and fish, or in stews. Pregnant women would eat the dihe directly to help protect their babies. There is also evidence showing that the Aztecs farmed and frequently consumed spirulina. Spirulina has recently been found in the marshy remnants of Lake Texcoco near Mexico City and it is believed that spirulina also grew in many other lakes within the Aztec Empire that have since dried up or been drained. The Aztecs would harvest the spirulina from lakes, dry it, and sell and trade it at markets. They would also make bread and cheese from it, and messengers would take it on their marathon runs to maintain energy during these long physical events (hint hint!) And these are only a few of the many stories from different continents, cultures, and times of people collecting and eating algae to use it in their dishes. 4 Besides Lake Texcoco, there are still many lakes in Africa and Asia that contain these blue-green algae cultures that are harvested to feed the nearby people. And with advancements in agriculture technology, we’ve been able to optimize the production of spirulina and other blue-green algae so that millions of people (if not billions!) can benefit from this absolutely incredible crop!
People today, especially in North America, are already consuming spirulina- they’re taking it in capsules or in powder form to get fast nutrients and an energy boost. But there’s only so much you can do with a powder or tablet. Plus, we’ve tried the stuff and it’s not the best tasting food around. Let’s be honest, we’ve tried the stuff and it’s not the best tasting food around. And as foodies ourselves, how can we be expected to eat something that doesn’t excite our taste buds? This taste conundrum is what inspired us to create food products that are centred around spirulina, to tap into all those fantastic benefits, while creating products that actually taste great. To learn more about our journey, you can check out the full story here!
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