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Algae could be vital alternative food in the future 

Published : Wednesday, 10 July, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 274

Algae could be vital alternative food in the future 

Algae could be vital alternative food in the future 

The food and energy crisis will be as the biggest problem in the future world. The solution to this problem will depend on how scientists can ensure food production from alternative sources. There are many foods on this list of options. For example, artificial meat is one. But there is one more option on the list. It is seaweed. Algae are a type of light-synthesizing, non-flowering plant that usually grows on the bottom of oceans or rivers. It has no roots, stems, or leaves. There are three types of seaweed found all over the world: red, brown, and green.

Algae represent 60% of Earths total photosynthesis. Seaweed is called a super food and scientists are constantly researching seaweed. Scientists have claimed in a study that seaweed can be one of the sources of future food and energy supplies. Algae conversion has already begun in Europe. Asian countries are also doing a lot of research on how to dry and use seaweed. According to history, seaweed cultivation was first started in Tokyo Bay, Japan, around 1640. Besides, the first commercial seaweed cultivation journey started in 1940. That is, the journey of algae as a food began many years ago. Scientists are looking for alternative sources to meet food demand.

Artificially produced algae can be used to make a variety of medicines, toothpaste, cosmetics, and animal feed. Apart from this, it is also possible to make various quality fabrics (alternative to plastic), capsule shells, and pipes. The ocean is already the worlds greatest resource. Fish and various marine resources extracted from the sea are directly related to human life and livelihood.
Adding algae to this can increase the importance of the ocean to another level. Although food made using seaweed has reached near human but the amount is not much. But many people in the world are in a food crisis. The ocean economy is being discussed very strongly all over the world. It is possible to strengthen the economy by using this algae.

The worlds population is increasing rapidly. A huge amount of food is required for this huge population. And agricultural land is the main hope of meeting the food demand until now. But the rate at which the countrys agricultural land is shrinking will one day threaten adequate food production. An excellent solution to this problem can be this super food, which can meet nutritional needs equally. Moreover, with such a large area, our sea border can be utilized if desired to meet food demand. Among the three types of algae, green is the most commonly consumed as food. And red is used in hydrocolloid production. Brown algae can be used for both food and hydrocolloid production. 

Currently, worldwide marine demand is around 26 million metric tons. Most of this is produced in Asian countries (China, Japan, the Philippines, North and South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia), producing about 80 percent of the total demand. China holds a large share of the global algae market. China alone produces about 40 percent of total demand. Currently, 26 million tons of seaweed are worth a total of $6.5 billion. In 2012, 40% of global seaweed production was used directly as human food, 40% indirectly as processed food, and the remaining 20% in industry.

21 percent of Japans GDP comes from exports of seaweed and its products. Chinas 14-15 percent GDP and Koreas 8-10 percent GDP come from this sector on average. According to UN Comtrade statistics, in 2019, 98 countries earned USD 2.65 billion in foreign exchange through exports of seaweed (USD 909 million) and seaweed-based hydrocolloids (USD 1.74 billion).

Algae are the fastest-growing. Algae survive on energy from sunlight, nutrients, and carbon dioxide from ocean water. Scientists believe that algae can play an important role in carbon sequestration in the fight against climate change. But making fast food directly from algae is a long way to go. Because, according to those who already work with algae, algae cannot be processed quickly, it has to go through many steps to make food, which is a bit of a complicated process. There are technical complications here.

If it were that easy, seaweed would quickly become popular on the menu. No efficient method of drying algae has been discovered. Algae quality is greatly reduced during sun drying. Again, the mechanical method to separate the watery part from the algae body is much more expensive. The benefits of algae are multifaceted. Because this super food is packed with nutrients. It contains protein, vitamins, iron, fat, carbohydrates, beta-carotene, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, zinc, cobalt, and iodine. There are also many other vitamin-rich foods, such as algae. Spirulina algae increases the bodys digestive power, protects against pathogens, and boosts the immune system, which helps prevent AIDS.

According to researchers, 100 grams of spirulina contain 374 kcal. 60 to 70 percent of 100 grams of spirulina is protein. Apart from this, it contains high levels of iron, potassium, zinc, and calcium. Researchers say this spirulina can be consumed by everyone, from children to the elderly. A type of food calledsea hood milkshake is prepared from seaweed and can be eaten with breakfast and rice. Biofuel, bioethanol, biohydrocarbon, biohydrogen, etc. are available as fuel for cars and electricity from five species of algae. So, there is a bright future  of the algae for the future.

The writer is a columnist and freelance journalist

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