The ocean cookbook is a side project. I do research on algae cultivation and I collect algae links and recipes on my tumblr ocean cookbook.
algae – future food
In essence, my interests lies in algae and halophytes (salt resistant plants) as a food source of the future. The oceans are vast, not yet fully understood and are bound to become increasingly relevant as resource. Understanding them and being able to make use of them for food, energy, even as a space to live, may be a key to the future.
the back story
It all started when I met members of open_sailing in early 2009. open_sailing is a network of designers and engineers who have the vision of an open source ocean station. They are working on open source hardware technologies, to learn from and to make use of maritime environments.
project achievements and hiatus
The Ocean Cookbook idea has actually won a €10,000 prize in June 2009. At a congress called “the 5 gum vision lab – Making Senses” I presented the concept on a hunch, knowing that I was onto something. Somehow, it convinced the panel of judges, they agreed my idea was the most visioanry and sense making. Which it was. It was just still very raw at that point.
With the prize money came responsibility. It soon turned out that the initial plan open_sailing had – to build a raft that could house a team and would serve us as a station for research and experiments – was rather megalomanic and not sustainable. Parts of the team reformed to work on what is now open_sailing’s largest project, protei, an oil-cleaning sailing robot.
The Ocean Cookbook came to a halt at that time, almost before it started. To be honest, I was afraid of doing the wrong thing with this blessing of a prize money, which I know I want to make the most out and not waste on something that doesn’t work out in the end.
The prize money is still with me, at least most of it. Here is what I have spent so far:
ca. €150 on a trip to an algae farm in Kiel, where we visited Ocean Basis (back then it was still called Coastal Research and Management), a research and production site for algae cosmetics. They grow a type of laminaria, and we got to see their seeding ponds, their machines and learned some basics of algae cultivation. We also collected and cooked halophytes such as sea cale on our excursion. Some photos documenting the excursion are here.
ca €150 on a two day trip to North Bali, (I was already in Indonesia at that time) to visit an algae farming site in a marine protected area. Algae farming was introduced there by the WWF in an effort to establish an alternative source of income for fishers, who were damaging an already fragile ecosystem through unsustainable fishing methods. I learned about algae deseases, the drying process, making candy out of algae and about how local fishers create floating structures out of empty barrels, bamboo and nets. I wrote about all this here and here.
€ 500 Euros of the Ocean Cookbook money were invested into the making of protei, because this is where it was needed.
Some more (about €1500, which still makes my heart bleed today) was lost in rent, transportation cost and material when we still intended to build the large floating strucutre.
Two things I realized: 1st The Ocean Cookbook will be more than a collection of recipes of how to cook with Wakame, Nori, Kombu and co. Books like that exist. I have grown more interested in finding out more about algae as a source for pretty much everything: biogas, fertilizer, cosmetics, bioplastics and yes, food (for animals and people).
On the long run, I want to learn how to grow algae (Micro or Macro, depending on where I live) and how to use it most efficiently, with DIY, Open Source technologies. That brings me to point 2: I need collaborators. With the rest of open_sailing working on protei in Rotterdam, I am pretty much alone in Berlin with my idea at the moment. If this fascinates you, if there is any other algae geek out there, get in touch. Open for collaboration.