World Food Day (16 October): superfood in Provence
Have you heard of spirulina? If you – like me – hadn’t, spirulina is a tropical micro-algae or more precisely cyanobacteria. A particularly virulent shade of deep blue-green, with a glassily glossy appearance when harvested in concentrated, solid form, spirulina contains alimentary riches beyond the wildest dreams of most nutritionists. These include protein (an impressive 65 percent), plus vitamins A, B12 and Iron.
Already relatively well-known and widely available in the USA and China, this enigmatic substance is not
merely a helpful supplement for vegetarians and athletes with the useful bonus of boosting the immune system. Spirulina might also present one of the solutions to the problem of world hunger. A dose of between 2 and 3 mg a day is of proven efficacy in preventing or halting malnutrition in children. A number of NGOs have known of the substance’s nutritional efficacy for years, and have already installed cultivation sites in sub-tropical regions of the developing world.
All the same, you might not necessarily expect to see spirulina cultivated in France – one of the world’s most agriculturally (not to mention gastronomically) rich and diverse countries. Yet here is - in
Provence where there are several small spirulina enterprises. One of them consists of two small strictly organic spirulina farms set up by Jean-Bernard Simian on the presqu’ile between Giens and Hyères in 2005.
This brilliant young man spotted an opportunity for establishing an environmentally-sound and sustainable agricultural enterprise in an area crying out for such initiatives. Not only that, but Jean-Bernard and his colleagues were also passionately keen on contributing to the fight against hunger in a responsible fashion via both supply of material and exchange of technology (they inform and train specialists from the developing world).
Perhaps la belle France, so rich in agricultural know-how and tradition, might already be paving the way towards a fairer future, a more equitable and sustainable method of sharing our resources globally and helping to feed our world – in more ways than one. A journey starts with a single step, and the cultivation of spirulina in Provence sounds like a splendid example of the kind of move that is needed.
More information on Jean-Bernard’s installation – the copy is in French, but there are some superb photos illustrating very clearly Jean-Bernard Simian’s work.
Click on pix to enlarge.
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