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Sunday, May 21, 2006

POPULATION: Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point - time to start growing spirulina?

"The world is now eating more food than farmers grow, pushing global grain stocks to their lowest level in 30 years.

Rising population, water shortages, climate change, and the growing costs of fossil fuel-based fertilisers point to a calamitous shortfall in the world's grain supplies in the near future, according to Canada's National Farmers Union (NFU).

Thirty years ago, the oceans were teeming with fish, but today more people rely on farmers to produce their food than ever before, says Stewart Wells, NFU's president.

In five of the last six years, global population ate significantly more grains than farmers produced."

Read more here:

POPULATION: Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point

Time to start to grow your own spirulina perhaps?

From what I've read, it has a protein per acre yield of 40 times that of soybeans (the next highest protein per acre yield). It has been eaten, harvested and cultivated for centuries in Africa and by the Aztecs among others. It is NOT the same as "Klamath Blue Green Algae" which is not a single unique species. Based on what I've read, the amount of land needed to grow enough spirulina to meet the world population's protein needs would be about the same size as the state of Kansas. Coincidentally, this is roughly the same size as Lake Chad in Africa where spirulina grows naturally. Live spirulina cultures can be purchased from the University of Texas at Austin's algae collection among other places. The one to get is spirulina platensis, LB 2340.
The nutrient ingredients are generally pretty inexpensive if purchased in large quantities (50 pound bags usually) They range from about 5 to 25 US dollars per 50 lb bag, with the more expensive ones generally being used in pretty small quantities. The dry ingredients will mix up into many thousands of gallons of nutrient solution (I haven't attempted to figure out how much, exactly, but it translates as lots, basically).

In survival conditions, the information states "In case of necessity ("survival" type situations), nitrogen, phosphate, sulfate, sodium, potassium and magnesium can all be brought by urine (from persons or animals in good health, not consuming drugs) at 5 ml/l and iron by a saturated solution of iron in vinegar (use about 0.1 ml/l)." I would guess that in such a situation, probably the simplest way to bring the pH up to the optimal range would be by using wood ash.

More information, links etc. can also be found in the wikipedia entry for Algaculture, which of course includes other algaes besides spirulina as well as information which will be useful for spirulina cultivation.

From what I've read, I believe there have been several projects aimed at getting villagers in third world countries growing their own spirulina.


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