This Algae Falafel Won First Place in a Feed-The-World Contest

The protein-rich algafalafel was developed by Israeli students to find sustainable and nutrient-rich food

Jun 18, 2019

(Martin Rettenberger / Shutterstock.com)

When the ancient Aztecs began consuming green-blue algae called spirulina, they probably didn’t know that health junkies in the 21st century would have so much fun bringing it back to life.

Over the past few years, spirulina, a micro-algae that grows in both fresh and saltwater, has been praised for its vitamin, nutrient, and mineral density. This ‘superfood’ has entered the western diet in capsule form or in a powder that can be mixed into smoothies and salads. Well at least until now.

As part of a competition, a group of university students decided to add the algae to falafel - a traditional middle eastern dish that is typically made from chickpeas. Judges of the EIT Food Project Competition were so impressed with the “Algafalafel” -  invented by students from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology - that the enriched falafel won first place.

The goal of the competition was to create a protein-rich food item - one that could potentially prevent nutrient deficiencies on an ever-growing planet. As the world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050, there is an increasing concern as to how to create and maintain food and nutrient security without depleting the earth’s resources.

Spirulina offers a sustainable solution as it is both protein-dense (60 percent protein) and requires significantly less land and water than conventional sources of protein, such as cattle and poultry. In fact, animal-based proteins are some of the least sustainable food products in the modern diet.

The second and third-place winners from Germany and Finland, respectively, also used Spirulina to enrich their food products.

So perhaps Dr. Seuss wasn’t so off when he wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” - only in today’s modern diet - that would be green falafel and tahini.

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.

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