Thailand: Spirulina on the roofs of Bangkok
Food & Globe met Saumil Shah, urban farmer and founder of EnerGaia, a start-up which cultivates spirulina on the roofs of Bangkok.
Spirulina, a micro-algae with exceptional properties, is being touted as a long-term alternative to animal proteins. It contains three times more protein than an equal portion of meat, as well as 2300 times more iron than spinach and 300 times more calcium than full-fat milk. And as if that were not enough, producing this superfood requires – on average – 50 times less energy and water than equivalent meat products.
Thinking about long-term solutions
Saumil, an engineer by trade, worked for a major energy production company before embarking on this adventure. His desire to think about more long-term solutions is what first got him interested in spirulina as an alternative ingredient for animal feed. Given the high quality of the product and its already proven benefits for people, he set about trying to make what he calls "the protein of the future" more widely available.
Producing a superfood
Thanks to an ingenious production mode requiring very little space, EnerGaia was able to set up his production facilities on the roofs of Bangkok (the roof of the Sofitel in particular). Producing it so close to its consumers is also a way of reducing its environmental impact. Saumil is certain that spirulina is a solution for meeting the ever-growing need for proteins.
Food & Globe believes that this superfood will play an important role in feeding people in the decades to come – provided it can be incorporated in an appetising way into our everyday diet. It is now time to stop seeing spirulina as a food supplement and start considering it as an ingredient in its own right. Let's imagine the taste that fresh spirulina has – similar to foie gras and use it finely sliced in a salad. Those are lines we could start thinking along in order to establish spirulina as a major foodstuff in the years to come.
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