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What do sushi, some salad dressings, ice cream and sweets have in common?
They contain algae, or, more familiarly, certain types of algae, which you call seaweed.
For a long time, algae has increasingly appeared on the plate as a background ingredient and has become the star of cooking shows.
They have a variety of flavors and are easy to grow. They may help us face an uncertain food future.
Seaweed is a nutritious food.
They are rich in vitamins A, B, and C, and rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and iodine.
Due to its high protein content, algae is a precious ingredient in vegetarian and vegan cooking.
They also contain antioxidant, antiviral and antihypertensive compounds, which may bring health benefits.
All seaweeds or marine macroalgae are classified into one of three major categories based on their color or pigmentation.
There is evidence that seaweed has been used in cooking for more than 1,000 years.
Since then, they have been served on plates all over the world and cleverly wrapped in popular delicacies such as sushi.
Through sushi, seaweed made from seaweed has become a global symbol of Japanese cuisine.
They are used for small roll sushi called maki.
Cooked seaweed can also be made into omelets, croquettes and many other dishes.
There are many kinds of algae.
Each has its own special cooking qualities.
For example, Kombu algae has an unusual smoky smell.
On the other hand, wakame has a seafood flavor and is very crunchy.
It usually ends with a salad or as a side dish of fish or other meat or seafood.
Arame has two sturdy oval fronds and a hard petiole or “stem”.
It has a semi-sweet and mild taste and is often used in salads, casseroles, soups or baked dishes.
These are just a few of the thousands of species of seaweed known worldwide.
This wonderful variety can not only be eaten directly.
Extracts from various seaweeds are becoming expensive “high-end” dishes in fashionable restaurants.
But algae extracts are also used in ice cream, cheese, non-dairy products, jelly, pudding, and infant formula, to name a few.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that the global seaweed production in 2019 will be close to 36 million wet tons.
This is a 1,000-fold increase since 1950.
This is another example of the growing popularity of seaweed.
But for the continued success of food, there is a key question:
Is algae cultivation good for the environment?
Since people grow algae in the sea, farming does not require land, fresh water resources or fertilizer.
Dried algae is easy to store and transport.
Therefore, sustainable planting is possible-but challenging on a large scale.
2020 UN Global Compact released The seaweed revolution: a declaration for a sustainable future. In the words of the United Nations, the report calls for internationally agreed standards, new investment efforts, and greater cooperation between government, science, and industry to push production to the next level.
Although it is not clear whether the declaration will become a reality in the future, one thing is certain:
The amount of seaweed we find on the plate may increase in the coming years.