All signs point to positive outcomes when seaweed is combined with dairy. New emerging science suggests that seaweed in cattle feed can reduce methane emissions. And nutrients from seaweed are being used in many of the dairy foods and beverages that we consume today and can also help in lowering cholesterol and fighting colds. Seaweed with dairy is also on point as one of the top 10 new healthy food trends for 2019!
In a study last year, University of California researchers at UC Davis fed seaweed to dairy cows to make them more climate-friendly by reducing their emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The study found that methane emissions were reduced by more than 30% in the dozen Holstein cows that ate the ocean algae, which was mixed into their feed and sweetened with molasses to disguise the salty taste.
If successful, adding seaweed to cattle feed could help California dairy farms comply with a state law requiring livestock operators to cut emissions by 40% from 2013 levels by 2030.
Antibiotic-free agricultural production
A company based in Kiltimagh, Ireland, has claimed that seaweed could play a major part in sustaining antibiotic-free agricultural production. A farmer that has included the milled seaweed in his pigs’ rations said that since he started using it, he has seen reduced incidents of scour in his pigs and increased weight gain.
The company producing the product is in the process of developing products for all livestock, including cattle, some of which are in the final stages before launching.
Dairy aside, seaweeds are some of the most nutrient-packed foods, containing fiber and other naturally occurring substances. A rich source of several vitamins, including vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and B vitamins, seaweed also offers varying levels of protein depending on the type of consumed. Red seaweed has the most, with up to 50 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces of nori (often used to wrap sushi).
Carrageenan, the natural, plant fiber from red seaweed, is a key ingredient used in many foods, including yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, infant formula, coffee beverages, creamers and nutritional drinks. Clinical research suggests carrageenan may play a role in lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation and fighting colds and viruses.
According to the World Bank in a 2016 report, “To maintain current consumption trends, the world will also need to produce 50-70% more food by 2050, increasingly under drought conditions and on poor soils.”
Seaweed farms can produce 17 times the protein of a livestock farm with no fuel, no fertilizer, no freshwater and no land. Seaweed sequesters nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon, meaning seaweed farms are carbon negative. They actually improve the environment.
As an example, carrageenan-containing seaweeds are sustainably harvested and readily available, employing 75,000 family seaweed farmers in developing economies around the world.
Seaweed farming to produce carrageenan has improved the health of the oceans, helped lift families out of poverty and improved the economic wellbeing and social fabric of thousands of communities in countries across Southeast Asia and Africa. In Zanzibar, farming seaweed has become an empowering and liberating force for women.
Top 10 new healthy food trend
Naturally salty foods are listed as one of top 10 new healthy food trends for 2019, making seaweed and butter in the form of seaweed butter a taste marriage made in heaven.
It’s a trend that is starting at the top. In a move that will warm the hearts of those that believe that everything goes better with butter, one of the world’s leading chefs has made a seaweed butter-marinated Charlotte potato the centerpiece of the menu at her two-Michelin-starred restaurant.
When articles in Vogue begin asking if seaweed is the perfect food, it’s time for dairy innovators to sit up and take notice. It’s abundant, sustainable and nutritious, and in the form of carrageenan, is already a key ingredient in many dairy products. Beyond its role as a thickening agent, as the case of the Charlotte potato marinated in seaweed butter demonstrates, it can also be delicious.
With the press that seaweed butter has been getting, and with naturally salty predicted to be a Top 10 trend in 2019, butter is a good place for the R&D team to start — to put seaweed butter on home-dining and fine-dining menus.
Butter sales could do with a boost. The February 2019 USDA Butter Report states that, “Some market contacts suggest butter sales have been stunted recently, while others maintain sales are seasonally slower, but meeting expectations.”
Cheese and ice cream would be natural follow-ons for the 66% of U.S. consumers who say they love to discover new flavors!