Seaweed could avert food crisis caused by extreme weather

<span>Photograph: FLPA/Alamy</span>
Photograph: FLPA/Alamy

Extreme weather events have been reducing crop yields across the world and many European countries that import a lot of their food could soon face a crisis. Politicians barely seem bothered about this but thankfully scientists think they have found a solution – undersea farming. This is not for fish but seaweed, which they call seawheat.

People have been eating seaweed for thousands of years but the scientists believe mass production of a species called Ulva, as a staple crop, will be necessary to keep Europe from food shortages. They realise that shifting people from eating wheat to seaweed is not just a technical question of the best way to mass production, but is a major cultural shift, and so have called in chefs to create recipes for salads, stir-fries and soups. They are tempting consumers with a green seaweed that has a “mild, slightly salty flavour with a nutty aftertaste”.

This is not planned as a niche industry but is being sold as a new wonder food: a rich source of nutrients, including protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals such as iodine, iron and calcium but which is also low in calories and fat. Thirty-three countries, including the UK, are working together on a seawheat programme that they hope will soon be on supermarket shelves.