12 Dec 20 Looking to the sea to make a new kind of sustainable burger
Instead of looking to replace meat with plants, this US food startup, Akua, is looking to the ocean with the launch of a kelp burger.
Cofounder and CEO, Courtney Boyd Myers, says she was drawn to seaweed for a few reasons. Along with its health benefits, seaweed provides some environmental advantages.
“If you think about food systems with kelp, it doesn’t require dry land or fresh water or fertilizer or feed to grow, so it’s what is called a zero-input food,” she says. “If you can grow zero-input food abundantly to feed the planet, you’re in a really good place.”
Kelp farms also naturally sequester a lot of carbon, so creating a larger market for kelp could help suck up even more emissions.
And finally, there’s the economic impact that comes with supporting kelp farmers. “These fishermen start to make more of a living by being ocean gardeners, if you will,” she says, putting less of a strain on the fishing supply. Investing in sustainable ocean practices can have huge global benefits.
According to the nonprofit World Resources Institute, every $1 invested in ocean sustainability generates $5 of benefits for the planet.
For its kelp burger, Akua works with women-owned kelp farms off the coast of Maine. The Akua burger also includes cremini mushrooms, black beans, quinoa, crushed tomatoes, and pea protein, which plant-based burger eaters may recognise as an ingredient in Beyond Burgers.
Boyd Myers says the Akua kelp burger isn’t meant to mimic meat in the way Beyond and Impossible burgers do, but assures it’ll still be satisfying to meat eaters.
Kelp and mushrooms have this “umami bomb taste,” she says, “and it’s really satiating in the way that meat is.” (The company assures there’s no fishy taste.) “I think that the kelp burger is going to have a special place in the market in between a fake meat burger and your boring old veggie burger.”
Akua (previously named Beyond the Shoreline) has already has offered a line of kelp jerky for some time, but now is raising funds for its kelp burger product on Republic, an equity crowdfunding platform, and already has raised more than $100,000.
Boyd Myers knows some people might be a bit hesitant about biting into a kelp burger, but she believes that’ll change soon. She points to the growing popularity of mushrooms — another edible item that, like kelp, doesn’t fall into the “plant” category but exists in its own kingdom.
Now that consumers are enjoying all kinds of varieties, from lion’s mane to maitake, and even downing mushroom “coffee,” the global mushroom market is expected to hit $86-billion by 2025, up from $53-billion in 2019.
“Over the next 10 years,” Boyd Myers predicts, “I think seaweed is going to be following that trajectory.”….