The Future of Food

Rory MacPhee at London Food Tech Week

Mara Man Rory reports

Now and again I am let loose from the wild shores of Scotland to roam metropolitan London. Sometimes I feel I should be called Seaweed Dundee rather than Mara Man.

And so to Shoreditch, to do a talk on the Future of Food Production, part of London Food Tech Week. The arena was full to bursting, being regaled with talk of precision farming, rooftop greenhouses, app-driven hydroponics, UAVs (drones) managing urban vegetable gardens... And, SEAWEED!

Learning about Mara's S3EED Project

I told them about the power of collaboration which we have developed in the S3EED Project. From previous blogs you will know about our massive R&D project, where we are running a pilot scale project growing seaweed in tanks.

Our partners in this are the Scottish Association of Marine Science and Otter Ferry Seafish. Much of my time is spent at a secret location on the West Coast of Scotland, growing various species of seaweed in twelve ten-tonne tanks.

Tank grown dulse by Mara Seaweed

Is there anything seaweed can't do?

We know that seaweed tastes good; that it's a healthy alternative to salt; that it enhances flavour; that it delivers umami; that it's nutritious; that it's bio-available (meaning the nutrients are easily released into the human body).

But how many know that seaweed can defeat the Malthusian Catastrophe, whereby population will always be limited by disease and food scarcity?

The UK Government has and is addressing pressing issues of food security - can we feed ourselves with predicted population increases? The solution will be a combination of issues - one of which is obtaining more nutrient value from algae, whether micro or macro (seaweed is classified as macro algae).

Unlocking the secrets of seaweed

So Mara is firmly locked into the bigger debate and looking for solutions to these issues. As I spend so much of my time working with seaweeds on the coasts of Scotland, I talk to these humble but beautiful beings and hear their secrets. Some of these secrets I share... And some I don't.

Rory MacPhee explaining seaweed

Nutritious, home grown food

There is a traditional notion at the core of Celtic herbal teaching that plants - whether on land or at sea - travel to us to give up their secrets. An apple from the garden has so much more nutritional and healing capacity than an import from Chile. And so our coasts are garlanded with a network of seaweeds, all gently beckoning us to join their party.

Exactly what the audience in Shoreditch thought of this I am not sure - but they sure enjoyed tasting Smoked Dulse!

Read more about the re:work event.


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