4/4 Spirulina 101: The Barriers

Get ready to learn all the terribly sad, tragic reasons why these little guys aren’t taking over the world (yet)

Cost 💸

Cost is probably the biggest barrier, since spirulina hasn’t been grown on a mass scale for very long.

Woooooooooow I Kurier

Evaporation 🌞

If natural light, the cheaper option, were to be used, many parts of the world with enough sun would have too much evaporation. This means that a cheap water source would need to be found, perhaps wastewater, and then tested for safety.

Deserts are great to use for spirulina…except for evaporation I DIC

Nutrients 🍝

15–25% of spirulina biomass production cost goes towards nutrients.

Energy ⚡

Around 5.5% of the cost of growing spirulina in a Raceway goes towards energy and this percentage only rises with closed bioreactors.

Strain Selection 🔬

The main factors spirulina strains are selected for include growth rate, biochemical composition (for nutrition or function), and resistance to environmental stress.

🧫🧬🧪👩‍🔬 I Genetic Literacy Project
The ginormous coils from the farm compared to the spirulina I bought from Algae Research Supply

Nutrition and Safety 🦺

There aren’t many nutritional issues that have been reported from spirulina and those that have are often due to an unreliable source. Because spirulina can soak up heavy metals and other contaminants in its medium, if it’s grown in an unclean environment these toxins can get passed onto the person who consumes it.

Shelf Life 🛒

Vitamins in spirulina are destroyed under heat processing which includes spray drying, microwave and oven drying. This is the same for antioxidants and phytonutrients present in spirulina.

Greenspring Farms’ fresh spirulina (Super nice people + high quality spirulina!)

Conclusion

The knowledge we have about spirulina has come a long way since it was first spotted on a pond many hundreds of years ago. We now have dozens of different ways to harvest it, hundreds of scientific papers, and thousands of recipes and ways to use it circling the internet.

  1. Methods of Growing and Harvesting Spirulina
  2. Nutrition and Uses for Spirulina

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Klara Zietlow

Klara Zietlow

15 year passionate about the future of food and the environment. Likes animals too :)