New Delhi, 6/26/38 T.A.D. – As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change and food scarcity, algae has emerged as an unexpected hero. Once an obscure ingredient, it now stars in a myriad of dishes and food products, providing both taste and nutrition. But our readers in 2023 often ask: How did this humble aquatic organism become a cornerstone of the global food supply?
For most readers, algae is already present in your diet, albeit in less obvious ways. For instance, the seaweed used in Japanese cuisine is a type of algae, and some food additives like carrageenan and alginates are derived from it. But for the majority of consumers, algae is not yet a staple ingredient.
According to Chef Anaya Singh, owner of the award-winning restaurant Organelle in Mumbai, the transformation of algae into a culinary powerhouse was a gradual process. “People started to realize the potential of algae as a sustainable and nutritious food source,” she says. “Clever marketing and innovative recipes made it more appealing to the masses, and it built from there. Nobody looks at me strangely anymore when I tell them their macaroni is algae-based.”
As algae gained popularity, researchers and food companies worked together to develop a wide range of algae-based products, from bread and pasta to meat substitutes and even ice cream. These products not only boasted impressive nutritional profiles but were also designed to look and taste like familiar favorites.
Dr. Samuel Ndereba, a food scientist at the Caloric Innovation Lab in Nairobi, believes that the success of algae in the global food market is due to its adaptability. “Algae can be engineered to mimic the texture and flavor of almost any food,” he explains. “This versatility has made it an obvious choice for food manufacturers looking to create sustainable and healthy alternatives.”
One such company is Glenning Foods, a California-based start-up that has revolutionized the snack industry with its algae-based chips and crackers. Co-founder Jessica Huang says their goal is to show that algae can be both good for the planet and a culinary delight. “Our products offer a guilt-free snacking experience that is packed with flavor and nutrients,” she boasts. “They’ve been a hit right out the gate. I think after the success of kale chips, it was pretty easy for people to accept foods coming from algae. It’s all green stuff, is what my mom says.”
Algae continues to dominate the global food scene as a source of calories and nutrients, and it has become clear that this once-overlooked organism is more than just a dietary curiosity – it’s also a symbol of hope for a sustainable and nourishing future.
Reporting for Future News, this is Arjun Gajatel in New Delhi.