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Algae the Wonder Plant

What if there was a plant that would eat pollution or if cattle ate this plant and it reduced methane gas by 60-99%? What if this plant could solve the protein shortage issues our world will shortly be facing? What if there was a plant that would repair skin or could be used as the building blocks for the 3-D printing of human organs? What if there was a plant that could be used in the future of biodegradable plastic?

Well wait no longer! Algae is this wonder plant!

My father was ahead of his time when he started to develop Algae in our little part of the Lower North Shore of Quebec. In truth, local people thought he was crazy! He knew that algae had so much potential because the elders in our communities had used it for everything from fertilizer for their gardens to feed for their animals. He worked with traditional knowledge and developed recipes for liquid fertilizer that was 100% organic and used preservatives for this fertilizer that he found in nature. This first innovation is where Rivage Grandir - Shore Grow was born. We have taken my dad’s original idea and worked to develop it further by creating extracts for high end markets like cosmetics, pharmaceutical and nutraceuticals. And from the waste, we are developing fertilizers! A true circular economy initiative based on traditional knowledge.

At Rivage Grandir, we think Canada could be a leader in developing and expanding the algae industry if it does not get bogged it down in politics and policy. We are working with a great number of companies and organizations to work on this innovation. As a collective group we believe expanding the algae Industry could solve some of the world’s greatest issues. 

So you may be asking what is so great about Algae? We will go through a couple of the great initiatives in product development that we are collaboratively working on with some of our partners.

Bio Plastic and New Fabrics

Algae has the greatest potential to replace petroleum based ingredients in the plastic and fabric industry. By creating a truly biodegradable product that breaks down we could solve some the worlds biggest pollution problems. Also, the branch into the textile industry would be critical as this is where a lot of the micro plastic pollution comes from. We think algae could be the solution to our oceans micro plastic crisis.

Here is some interesting research in algae fabrics

Algae Packaging:

Could algae have a future place in medicine?

The first time I traveled to the International Bio Marine Conference, we were amazed by the people we met that were doing cutting edge algae research. It was the first time we had heard of bio printing which in our point of view will be the future of medicine. Can you imagine being able to go in and custom order an organ that is then replicated for you, using your tissue? In carrying out a 3D tissue printing, algae is used in a way that acts like glue or connectors. The algae allows the tissue to be scaffolded, connecting one layer to the other.

Here is an article on the state of this use of algae, a truly amazing plant.

Algae in agriculture and its’ uses as a fertilizer and animal feed in farming and aquaculture

Traditionally algae was used as a fertilizer for crops, as well as, feed for dogs and animals in remote areas Over time this practice stopped as fertilizer and animal feed was transported to remote areas life the Lower North Shore. In the last 10 years research into the use of algae has increased and is showing us that traditional knowledge was again right. Algae is a better fertilizer for crops and feed for animals. There is no additives nor transportation and packaging costs especially if harvested locally.

In an article published by CBC, it showcased algae research being carried out by the University of Alberta. Unfortunately, the research stated that the harvesting of algae is difficult. This is not the case. Perhaps the research team did not talk with the right people who have the technical and historical knowledge of how to harvest algae in a cost effective and efficient manner. This local knowledge has been built over a hundred years. I invite the researchers to come to our Lower North Shore region and observe and ask questions about our harvesting techniques.

A company that has capitalized on algae development in agriculture and now human applications is Olmix. I had the pleasure of meeting with their CEO at a Bio Marine conference in Portugal in 2018 to learn about their amazing work and to investigate if Canada would partner with Olmix in the algae research, use, and harvesting especially along our large and vast Lower North Shore shorelines.

Algae as a food source of the future?

Everyone across the world is raising the flag that we will soon be have a world shortage in protein. The UN and other large world entities are asking how can we sustainably feed our growing world population? It seems there is a growing consensus that Algae will be a big part of the solution of feeding the world. If Canada is to be forward thinking, an investment has to be made to place Canada as a leader in the development of protein for the world’s population. Imagine that we probably have the worlds most plentiful resource nestled all across our shore lines a vast forest of algae plants!

"Our planet faces a growing food crisis. According to the United Nations, more than 800 million people are regularly undernourished. By 2050, an additional 2 to 3 billion new guests will join the planetary dinner table." World Economic Forum

Algae in Cosmetic and Nutraceutical Markets

The beauty movement of inside and outside beauty is gaining more traction everyday. People are looking for new product lines that are so healthy you can eat them as well as place them on your skin. Traditional algae was used as a healing plant and as an immune booster. At one of our community tours on the Lower North Shore, a participant told us his grandfather’s story. ‘… a fisherman severely injured his index finger. Some algae was applied. Instead of an infection and the possible loss of an index finger, which happened to some fisherman, the finger healed after multiple algae applications …’.

Research is now showing that our ancestors were not wrong. Clinical research shows reduction in inflammation and healing properties of algae extracts are gaining traction everyday in the cosmetic industry. Also, the use of algae powders in nutraceutical application is growing every year. As research and clinical validation grows so will people’s use of the algae products. At Rivage Grandir- Shore Grow we strongly endorse the future of this movement as it is one of our companies’ core values to be a source of natural organic products in the market place.

So what is the future of algae?

The future looks very bright in terms of development. I believe as we develop this Canadian industry, the rural remote sea side communities must take a major leadership role in harvesting, processing and producing algae products. This leadership has to be multi-faceted. we have to lead the development of sustainable harvesting protocols, policy and manufacturing. As this market grows, we want to be an active partner in leading the way. As my father said 20 years ago the future will be algae. We can create a true circular economy industry is we use all of the great properties of the plant taking higher value compounds first and then moving down the value chain to fertilizers. Using all of the plant will gain greater profits and improve environmental impacts across a multitude of industries. If we can learn from our past mistakes and stay firm in the fact that we want harvesting, processing and third transformation manufacturing in our territory, we will see a growth in our economies and communities. Creating a more sustainable future for rural seaside communities across the vast Canadian coastline. The future is really ours for the taking.

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