We’ve traditionally thought of foods as healthy by evaluating their impact on our own personal health.
But as we find ourselves increasingly confronted by the challenges of climate change, it’s becoming clear that the way we nourish ourselves is closely linked with the health of the world around us.
It’s time to expand our definition of what a “healthy food” really is and include food’s impact on our natural ecosystems.
Our food system is a contributor to carbon emissions, pollution, deforestation and natural habitat destruction. Often times our wellbeing and Earth’s can be totally out of sync if the way we produce certain foods and ends up making the planet sicker.
But don’t panic just yet! There are some incredibly delicious, healthy and sustainable foods that are gaining in popularity – (super)foods that are just packed with all the goodness to nourish us, while helping the world around us.
Spirulina is one of the best examples of these sustainable superfoods given its ability to restore, replenish and nourish us without doing damage to (and even benefitting) the environment.
5 reasons why Spirulina is a sustainable superfood
Spirulina can recycle CO2
If spirulina is grown sustainably, it can capture CO2 (a greenhouse gas that is currently contributing to rising global temperatures) up to 200x more efficiently than trees.
In fact, CO2 can be one of the main inputs to grow spirulina, so you can actually grow it in a way that consumes more CO2 than it emits.
In other words, producing this superfood can has the potential to combat global warming instead of contributing to it!
No arable land
On our current trajectory, we may run out of arable land that can produce food.
In fact, our global demand for land has already led to large-scale deforestation and natural ecosystem destruction to clear the way for food-producing land.
Spirulina production is possible in either open ponds or closed vessels with a light source—known as photobioreactors.
These spirulina production systems can be built on non-productive land in the desert, and urban areas. No need to compete with forests or natural habitats to grow our food!
No fertilisers or pesticides
Also, spirulina doesn’t require pesticides to sustain productivity.
This results in fewer contaminants being released into the environment and less pollution in our waterways, which can have far-reaching impacts on precious water and land resources.
The process to grow spirulina uses very limited freshwater – especially compared to some other healthy sources of vegan protein like soy.
Some sustainable spirulina growth processes can even recycle up to 80% of the freshwater used in the growth cycle.
A primary challenge that our species faces is the need to feed an ever-growing population with limited natural resources.
The amount of food currently produced must double to meet the needs of the expected population of around 9.8 billion people by 2050.1
Per hectare, spirulina (and microalgae in general) produce more protein at a rate more than 100 times than that of animal-based proteins like beef, eggs, and dairy.
Thanks to their rapid rate of growth, spirulina can double in biomass in as little as one-to-three days depending on the season, higher than most popular forms of nutrition we currently consume.
The benefit? High growth means frequent harvesting.
This allows spirulina farms to be far more resilient to extreme weather events, disasters, or other unforeseen catastrophes.
Whereas a blight can wipe out a crop for a generation, or a recall can waste the lives of livestock, the loss from any adverse event on spirulina culture is likely only a few days before it gets back to doubling on the daily.
The final say
While Spirulina indeed has super-superfood potential, like any other food it can be produced more or less sustainably.
Companies like FUL are producing Spirulina according to these climate positive guidelines – one of the many more healthy and sustainable foods to come.
Last updated: 20 April 2022