Food Sourcing

Marine Algae Could Nourish Growing World Population


According to the United Nations, more than 800 million people today are regularly undernourished. By 2050, a rise of another 3 billion in global population is expected to escalate pressure on food supplies. The challenge means providing not just sufficient calories, but also a balanced diet for good health.

Fish present a viable solution, but most of the world’s inventory is already overharvested. Some scientists propose “cutting out the middle fish” via the commercial production of marine microalgae as a staple food. They produce fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polymers and carbohydrates that humans need and that can be used to feed animals and farmed fish. Microalgae are found in both freshwater and marine aquatic systems. Only a handful of algal species are used commercially now, but hundreds of strains have similar potential.

Meanwhile, innovators at Copenhagen’s future-living lab SPACE10 created the Algae Dome, a 13-foot-tall urban ecostructure powered by solar energy that pumps out oxygen and produces food in a closed-loop arrangement. This hyperlocal food system grows microalgae, which are among the world’s fastest-growing organisms and can thrive on sunshine and water almost anywhere.

This article appears in the March 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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