Would You Tuck in to Spirulina Pie?
Spirulina is a common ingredient in Koi foods due to its incredibly high protein content. Indeed it has the highest protein content of any natural food – up to an impressive 70%. It might be a fabulous ingredient for summer pond food but what is Spirulina and would you eat it yourself?
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a tropical pond algae and we know you're probably already thinking that it doesn’t sound like a particularly promising food! It grows naturally in Africa, Asia and South America and is blue-green in colour. Now it's sounding even worse right?! Despite its unappealing credentials Spirulina could represent an important form of nutrition in developing nations due to its high protein content and rapid growth. Spirulina doubles its biomass every five days.
The Spirulina Cookbook
The Nasio Trust is a charity that is running a project in Kenya to grow Spirulina. It is hoped that their Spirulina farm will provide a nutritious source of food for local children. The project has inspired Helen Peacocke from Eynsham in Oxfordshire to write her Green Power cookbook which features 25 recipes using this special pond algae.
It took Mrs Peacocke several months to evolve appealing recipes as Spirulina has a very strong flavour. It was important to find flavour combinations which complemented the algae. The book is being sold to raise money for the Nasio Trust and features recipes for such delicacies as apple hamburgers, apple pies, Spirulina pasties and beetroot soup. There is even a recipe for dog biscuits which is an interesting idea...
The Algae Farm
Hopefully Peacocke's book will raise the profile of this interesting project. The first 10 tanks for growing the algae were established in 2014 and within a year were producing 13kg of dried Spirulina algae every week. Not only was the algae providing a useful source of food to keep kids healthy in Kenya, the project was also employing 7 local people. What a win-win situation!
In addition to its high protein content, Spirulina is also a source of important amino acids, antioxidants, minerals and iron.
From Summer pond food for fish to food for Humans?
So Spirulina is a great food for people after all as well as a valuable protein rich ingredient in Koi summer pond food. That being said, it doesn’t mean that you should rush out and tuck into your pond-sticks, but it might mean that Spirulina could be a nutritious ingredient for human foods. Currently it's used as a dietary supplement and, after all, we are all happy to tuck into seaweed at the local Chinese restaurant and seaweed is of course also an algae of sorts.
Indeed Spirulina’s potential has been recognised for some time. As early as 1974 the World Health Organisation noted its nutritional content. In 2003 the United Nations established the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition. In the late 80s both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) suggested that Spirulina should be one of the foods to be cultivated on future space missions.