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Exploring Algae Technology With Professor Isaac Berzin

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Numerous space-age technologies are currently changing how people eat and nourish themselves while using fewer resources. One of these innovations is algae technology. In this episode, Corinna Bellizzi explores this cutting-edge technology with Professor Isaac Berzin, an affiliate scientist at MIT and Founder/CTO of Vaxa Technologies. Together, they discuss how algae technology contributes to producing healthier food alternatives and reducing carbon emissions. Professor Berzin also explains how they are scaling this approach to reach more regions and become more accessible to every household.

 

About Isaac Berzin

Care More Be Better | Isaac Berzin | Algae TechnologyFounder & CTO of Vaxa Technologies, Professor Isaac Berzin was named one the 100 most influential people by Time Magazine for his work in sustainability and climate change, Isaac is an Affiliated Scientist at MIT, where he worked on a NASA sponsored project, developing bioreactors for the International Space Station. His innovative work in GreenFuel Technologies has won numerous awards including the Frost and Sullivan Award (2006), Platts Global Energy Award (2006) and American Society of Competitiveness (ASC) Awards 2005, 2006, 2007. Isaac holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology from Ben-Gurion University of Negev, Israel.

 

Guest LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/isaac-berzin-17386428/

Guest Website: https://vaxa.life, https://orlonutrition.com

Guest Social:

https://www.instagram.com/orlonutrition 

https://www.facebook.com/orlonutrition 

https://www.tiktok.com/@orlonutrition

 

Show Notes: – FINAL Audio

00:00 – Introduction

02:59 – Algae technology

09:50- Toxic elements

13:34 – Oxalates

14:21 – Net neutral companies

17:28 – Scalability efforts

20:35 – Spirulina, Vitamin B12, and Phycocyanin,

30:07 – Immunity boost

32:17 – Five years from now

38:19 – Other works on algae

42:34 – Closing Words

 

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Exploring Algae Technology With Professor Isaac Berzin

In a continuation of last episode’s theme, where we discussed climate optimism from the perspective of ongoing green projects and how we might fund them, we’re going to dive into space-age technologies that can help us nourish populations for generations to come, all while using 99% less land and water resources than other food sources. This may sound unbelievable, but the reality is that this technology exists, and nutrition products are already available as a result of this technology here in the United States, Iceland, Israel, and other markets around the globe, with more coming soon.

To delve into this somewhat complicated discussion, I’m joined by my friend and colleague, Professor Isaac Berzin. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people by Time Magazine for his work in sustainability and climate change. He is an affiliated scientist at MIT, where he worked on a NASA-sponsored project to develop bioreactors for the International Space Station.

His innovative work in green fuel technologies has won numerous awards, including the Frost and Sullivan Award, the Plat Global Energy Award, and the American Society of Competitiveness over three consecutive years. He holds a PhD in chemical engineering and biotechnology from Ben-Gurion University in Negev, Israel.

When I first met Isaac back in 2016, his reputation preceded him. I was told I was about to meet a rockstar from the world of algae and technology. He has lived up to that reputation time and again, every day that I’ve known him. I’m thrilled to collaborate with him, work with him, and introduce you to him. Isaac Berzin, welcome to the show.

It’s a pleasure to be here, Corrina.

I want to talk about what led you to be fascinated with algae to the point where you might even be called a rock star in this space.

It was the looks of them. When you look at the algae culture, it’s microalgae, and you see colored water. It could be green or other colors, but you look through a microscope, and you see all the shapes and colors. Some of them have a little mustache called flagella. They swim around, and you discover a whole world of visuals.

You think about the critical role that they played in establishing life or enabling life on this planet. It’s amazing. You think about their values in terms of nutrition and climate. It became one of the most fascinating things. I’ve known algae for many years at MIT. We have this relationship. I appreciate them more as time goes by. They’re amazing little creatures, and we owe them a lot.

There are many projects underway in the space of algae, microalgae, and macroalgae. I’ve heard about things like brown seaweed grown to feed cattle to reduce their burping and the emissions that they create naturally through digesting the food they eat in their multiple-chamber stomachs. Big innovators like Cyanotech in Hawaii have grown spirulina in open ponds. You might’ve heard of other projects in which you’ve been involved in growing algae and open ponds. I’d like you to talk about what is different about Vaxa, what you’re doing in Iceland, and how it is developing this cutting-edge technology so that we can commercialize something that uses little resources and gives back so much.

If you look at what is mostly done in the world, it’s microalgae, or in an existing market, it’s mostly cultivated large open systems. I’m trying to explain the difference about what we do. I learned the hard way. I wish I could tell you that it came to me. It’s been a long road, but the bottom line is that there are significant benefits to you as a user and significant benefits to the environment. They go hand in hand.

For example, the user experience. I’m talking about the sensory experience. There are many microalgae and macroalgae. Between us girls, I can say it’s a disgusting experience. They have a unique smell and taste. It’s not a pleasure. A lot of it is a result of the cultivation conditions. I’ll give you an example. Spirulina is around 70% protein. You can think about something like meat or fish. It’s a protein-rich thing, and it grows in warm places during warm seasons. When you harvest the spirulina and keep it at a warm temperature for a while, it stinks like meat or fish. It’s the same thing. Sometimes, the way you cultivate it creates this user experience.

The second thing is, which is true for all the natural materials, it’s inconsistent composition. On a seasonal basis or a daily basis, especially microalgae, where you harvest every day, the algae is different because it is sunny, cloudy, cold, or hot. Every day is different. They react and change their composition. It’s hard to claim anything or establish any baseline when you are input, in terms of nutritional values, all over the place.

The third thing and something that we learned is that when you control growth conditions, it’s not only they perform more of what you want them to perform. Sometimes, they prefer things that are suppressed. Growth conditions unleash metabolic pathways to show the beauty of algae and they create amazing things for you. We’ll give you some examples later about this. They can create significant nutritional differences compared to algae grown in open systems.

[bctt tweet=”When you control growth conditions, algae performs more of what you want them to perform. Controlled spaces sometimes unleash metabolic pathways that show the beauty of the plants.” username=””]

The last dimension about you and why we want to do this is biosecurity. Spirulina is an extremophile. They grow in high pH. You might think nothing else will grow there. Some other members of the blue-green algae can grow in these crazy pH levels and some of them are neurotoxic. You can never look in my eyes and tell me that you’re 100% sure that there are no invasive algae because it’s an open system. You never know.

Biosecurity is something that I feel comfortable with when you control everything. It’s a closed system. You treat, filter, and make sure all the inputs are pure. That summarizes why it’s good for you and the environment. People think that an open pond system is a sustainable way of cultivation. I want to claim that it’s not. The reason it’s not is simple. It’s water evaporation.

If you look at the number of water operations from ponds, and usually algae are cultivated in more places, it’s about two meters a year. If you have a pond with a water height of two meters, by the end of the year, it’s going to be completely dry. It means it’s the worst camel in the world. It drinks all this water, and all this water is lost. In places like California, people understand what fresh water shortage is. It’s immoral to grow or cultivate microalgae in these spaces.

If you say, “Let’s do marine, brackish water.” Yes, you put brackish water in the pond. What evaporates is fresh water. The salt stays. In order to maintain consistent salinity, guess what you need to put inside? Freshwater. This is almost an environmental sin to me. That summarizes why you want to do this. It’s much better for you and the environment.

There’s something that you haven’t brought up in that story. There is a problem with pesticides. I recall days of working with open ponds and infestations with water-border beetles, who wanted to eat all the beautiful green algae.

Including dead birds that they find themselves in, as well as all dogs. Unlike a dead bird in a tomato plantation, this one is a dead bird in your culture. It’s on the growth side of things. The fact that you grow it in a closed system with pristine water allows you to use zero pesticides or herbicides. It’s an amazing thing. I agree with you, Corrina. You are right.

One of the topics that we’ve covered on this show covers things like glyphosate or other toxic chemicals that end up in our water tables. I’m not saying that’s what’s used in algae growing in open ponds, but I would also wonder if you had infiltration into the water table of something like glyphosate, if it’s also finding its way into the algae.

We know that people have more dietary sensitivities. We’re only beginning to understand what glyphosate has done to our ecosystems and what it continues to do to our microbiomes because it’s both an antibiotic and a pest control solution. As it presently stands, if you are going to a closed system, you don’t have to worry about the potential for contamination with some of these toxic chemicals. You don’t have to worry about procuring the same sorts of ingredients from other sources that could be more expensive from a carbon perspective, for example.

Some algae have an affinity to all kinds of contaminants, like heavy metals. They accumulate heavy metals from the environment and keep them in their body, sometimes 60X more, from the cut relative to the environment in which they live. They’re becoming contamination bombs. It’s not only that they magnify the contamination. To your point, yes, even if the contamination is mild, in the algae, it can be horrific. Using pristine water in a closed system where you know everything that’s coming in and what’s coming out, and you make sure it’s clean and nice, is a huge comfort zone. I agree with you, especially in algae.

For the audience here, I’ve worked for many years now in the natural products industry, working to formulate supplements and bring things to market. One of the things that has been a consistent problem is something like spirulina, especially when it comes to lead levels. You will see supplements that have spirulina bear the California Prop 65 warning, which will state that this product contains levels of heavy metals known in the State of California to cause birth defects and cancer as an example of something terrible that you would have to put on the package.

Even if you might get more lead, if you consumed wild salmon that particular day or even a pancake made with less than savory wheat, you would find that you’re accumulating levels of these toxic things you don’t want. If we’re able to create something that doesn’t have to have that environmental impact and doesn’t have to provide a negative input into our biosphere, we’ll be more healthy. That should be in all of our interests.

It’s nothing that the algae farmer can control if it’s coming with the rain and it’s brought into his open ponds. It’s something that he cannot do a better job. We’re not speaking little of these people. They can do the best job they can, but still, it’s out of their control. Algaes accumulate and have an affinity for these things, and these are the results.

Similar problems even exist in things like tea. You might get more levels of lead in green tea than you want because it ends up in groundwater. That gets sucked up through the roots. That’s the way it is.

I’ve seen data on seaweed cultivated in Asia. Some of them are things that you don’t want to eat. They’re accumulating all toxic elements from the water they’re growing.

I know that you’ve been bringing up this topic of oxalates lately. Can you talk about that at all? What are oxalates, and why should we be concerned about them ending up in our food sources?

I’m not an expert on food toxicity, but I know that oxalates are compounds that have created a lot of attention. The nice thing about spirulina is it is oxalate-free because it doesn’t have oxalate. It’s not that it has it, and we clean it, but it doesn’t have it. One of the beauties of growing things close to the source is that you don’t have a lot of the things that are coming from processing, and it depends on the strain itself. In our case, on the list of problems, that’s not there.

There is so much pressure to create new net-neutral companies or carbon-negative projects. How is it that this work can confidently say that it is carbon negative that the omega-3s and the spirulina facts that technology is working to produce and provide through the consumer-facing brand of Örlö Nutrition? How can we confidently say that?

The claim of carbon-neutral has to come only one way. It has to come from something that’s called lifecycle analysis. It’s an engineering analysis that takes into account all of your inputs and outputs, including the energies and the carbon emissions associated with building your facility. Out of this balance, you can say if the balance is positive, negative, or neutral.

Many people tend to think that if it’s a photosynthetic system like a plant, it’s carbon neutral or carbon negative because the plants are eating CO2 from the air. It’s photosynthesis. That’s true, but that’s only half of the truth. Once you need to put fertilizers in, you have to take into account the energy associated with creating those fertilizers. Once you have to operate machinery that uses liquid fuels or electricity, you have to take into account the CO2 emissions that are coming from the energy usage. You have to look at everything, not at half of the things.

In our case, there was a study in livestock analysis done by Cambridge University, DTI, the Danish Technology Institute, and Matisse at the National Lab of Iceland together. It’s a published paper. They looked at everything that has to do with cultivating microalgae in our facility. One of the keys to getting this carbon neutrality result was the integration with the geothermal power plant.

Care More Be Better | Isaac Berzin | Algae Technology
Algae Technology: For picture of geothermal power plant: One of the keys to getting into carbon neutrality is through integration with the geothermal power plant.

 

In Iceland and some other places in the world, if you dig a few kilometers down, you hit the steam. In other places, we have to burn fossil fuels to create the same steam to generate electricity. That’s natural steam. The electricity is cost-effective and clean. We use a lot of energy in the facility. We have LED lights, pumps, and blowers. When you look at the carbon footprint associated with all this activity and you look at the CO2 that was fixed by the algae to become organic, they balance each other and you get even a slight negative. A negative CO2 footprint is a positive thing. We can, with confidence, say, “Carbon-neutral production is better than that.”

Speaking with the CEO of Vaxa Technologies, Andri Björn, he shared with me that the company has carbon credits that can be sold. That would dispel any question about whether or not we were operating from a carbon-neutral capacity, given that alone. I’m intrigued by the continued growth of this type of technology growing in this way.

Some of the questions I’ve had from the community about this relate to whether it is scalable and how scalable as a nutrition solution, especially as we consider something like Omega-3 and want to replace the nutrition that we’re getting from fish with this reliable source that is three times better absorbed even than the EPA and DHA you get from fish oil. It retains its polar lipid structure, which makes it more bioavailable. It can get right into your cells as opposed to sitting on top of your stomach acids. It’s more attractive, but is it scalable?

I have to wear my engineering hat and tell you that it’s a good question because scalability is the number one killer in biotechnology. Many things you learn on a small scale are not applicable on a large scale. What we chose is we chose a Lego block method in which we have a production unit. You are welcome to visit our website and take a look. It’s beautiful and aesthetic. It’s going to vertically farm microalgae. These are machines you can say that hold the cultivation units and LED lights.

Care More Be Better | Isaac Berzin | Algae Technology
Algae Technology: For picture of cultivation unit: It goes to vertical farming of microbiology. These machines hold a cultivation unit and LED lights. As we scale up, we just add more of these machines.

 

We scale up by adding more of these machines. We are adding more of the Lego blocks to create more. We don’t change the machine. We add more of them. If you think about that, we call it energy to food technology because what’s coming in is clean energy. What’s coming out of it is sustainable food.

We started in Iceland with a geothermal power plant. If you think about it, there are many sources of clean energy. Hydroenergy and other means of clean energy are used. This unit, especially because it’s not connected to local conditions, sunlight, or weather, could be copied and pasted to many places, not only in Iceland but around the globe, where you have access to cold water. It Could be ocean water. It doesn’t have to be fresh water and clean energy. The rollout potential is significant. I don’t think there’s one of the things that are places of concern. Can you scale it up? I don’t think there’s a problem.

In the time I’ve known and worked with the company, what I have seen is that even the facility in Iceland looks like tripled in size. Is that about the rough estimate in the last few years?

It’s even more than that. We have a conservative CEO who only grows when there’s a customer for it. It doesn’t build things without a guaranteed market. The answer is yes, and it was significant growth. Every time I come, it’s amazing.

The plan is for me to come this late spring or summer. I will get to see Vaxa Technologies in person. I’ll get to spend time with you and the team there for the first time since our collaboration began. We work to bring these fantastic ingredients to consumers with Örlö Nutrition. I understand. Because of the growth that we’ve experienced, we’re able to lean in now to what we’re doing in spirulina. I’d love for you to talk about what makes this spirulina different and unique compared to the stuff grown in open ponds, even if they are in a semi-controlled environment. I’ve seen some that look like they have greenhouses above them to keep out some environmental contaminants.

I would start maybe with the user experience. It’s unbelievable that this thing has no taste or smell. If you ever spirulina, you’re never going to forget. In this case, it is unbelievable. There are expectations for this specific taste. You don’t feel it. When one of the versions of the products we have is completely blue, your mind goes crazy. Blue foods don’t exist in nature. You’re eating like a blue yogurt, and your mind is looking for the extra taste, but there is no.

I can attest to that because I got some of the early 7% solutions that were experimental. I mixed it in with my child’s frosting to put on a brownie to make it blue and interesting. Mix it in yogurt or milk to show them the color change and see it go in almost like you would with a food colorant. It’s that vibrant. They’re children. They’re 6 and 9. They like it.

It could be as exotic as you want or as non-exotic. We have customers who are bread manufacturers, and people do not appreciate green dots in their bread. We have a brown version. We pasteurized it, and the condition made it brown. People cannot believe it’s spirulina bread because there’s no color, smell, or taste. You can have tangible nutritional values. You can be as exotic or as benign as you want.

The second thing is consistent composition, which brings me to talk about the benefits of a controlled growth environment. Corrina, I wish I could tell you we were smart. It was a bit of we’re chasing something else. We have a contract with a natural food manufacturer. To manufacture food and blue food colorant, we’re optimizing the system to enhance the production of that pigment, which is called Phycocyanin.

All of a sudden, we started to see that the ratio between the vitamin B12, which is typical for spirulina, which more spirulina have in abundance and not biologically active to the active part, which is a small fraction, less than 10% of the spirulina, this ratio started to change dramatically to reach a point in which more than 95% of your vitamin B12 is an active form. Only a small minority is in the cell form. The way to do it is to measure both. It’s the net active B12 form. You take the active minus the cell, and that’s your net active. Because they compete for the same receptor, this became a crazy vehicle for active vitamin B12.

[bctt tweet=”More than 95% of your Vitamin B12 is an active form. Only a minority is in the spirulina.” username=””]

The beauty is that we can consistently have year-round every day in the same amount. It opens the door to an interesting value proposition, which is nutritional and functional claims. Apparently, B12 is on the list of approved FDA and FSAT list of vitamins and minerals. If you can show on the product and you have more than 20%, you can claim that it’s a source of vitamins and minerals. In the case of B12, functional claims were allowed. One of them is that B12 supports a healthy immune system. It borders from nutrition to almost health, benefits, or functions.

I want to translate a couple of things for our audience here because I’ve spent a long in this nutrition field. When you say pseudo versus active vitamin B12, pseudo vitamin B12 is going to sit on that receptor site and block the absorption of the active vitamin B12. The most active vitamin B12 that you typically see in a supplement is called methylcobalamin. That’s the form that our spirulina is delivering. It gets right into your system.

People take vitamin B12 for things like energy because it supports your body’s natural ability to produce mitochondrial ATP energy. You’ll feel more spring in your step. Many people use vitamin B12 after they’ve had a late night of drinking or something of that effect to help them recover the day after. While this show is not for anything but informational purposes, we’re not mentioning anything out of league here. Another thing that you mentioned is phycocyanin, which is present in spirulina and is a potent antioxidant. It’s blue. It’s not present in many things and not in that high of a potency.

Phycocyanin has a tendency to react differently to light. It’s chromatic. If you have a glass of water and you add phycocyanin to it, it becomes blue. If you take your phone, open the flashlight, and put the light in front of the glass, it’s going to look purple. You’re going to move it to the back, and it’s going to look blue. It’s going to change the colors. It is unbelievable.

That was because of a pH change. There are some teas that you can buy, and if you put a drop of lemon juice in them, it goes from blue to pink.

That’s a pH, but it’s the same thing. It’s the moving of the light relative to your eyes that changes the colors, and it’s mesmerizing.

You sent a video like that. I thought it was like a lava lamp. It was crazy.

It’s because we have light underneath the bottle. To answer your question, how is it different from other spirulina? It does carry nutritional claims that no other spirulina in the world has, especially when the composition changes on a seasonal basis.

That’s been a problem for natural products in general. You have seasonality shifts in their composition. If you’re doing something like trying to get vitamin C from Amla, which is a gooseberry grown in India, you’ll have some seasons when the vitamin C levels are higher and some are lower. Suddenly, companies that manufacture products with them can’t meet label claims. It becomes incredibly challenging to formulate with them.

It is if you’re thinking of using a spoon as an ingredient in the food industry. No, a claim on a food product is a legal obligation. If I’m telling you this food is a source of B12 and it’s not, I’m going to be liable for it. It’s opening the door to even think about spirulina as an ingredient. It’s a claim-enabling ingredient.

We have a bread maker in Iceland that is using spirulina. He has two certificates. One comes from the National Food Lab of Iceland. They analyze the bread. It has about 50% of the daily value of B12 preserving. It’s a source of B12 active and net active because they measured both. They also have another certificate. This bread is carbon neutral because of the negative carbon emission reduction coming from the ingredients.

I’m betting people don’t believe that you can’t taste the spirulina, but what I’m telling you is if I can’t taste the spirulina that’s in the milk or the frosting or on my finger, I’m betting I’m not going to be able to taste it in the bread.

The mind is looking for it because it’s spirulina of bread. If you see it’s green, you are looking for it. You’re looking for the smell or taste. You can’t find it. It’s confusing. I’ve seen this look on people’s faces. It’s amazing. It’s a different product with different user experiences, environmental footprints, and nutritional values. The name is the same spirulina, but it’s a different thing.

A lot of this is pre-market, but we’re working together in collaboration to bring some of this to the United States. I can’t give too much away now. Our first product in the Icelandic ultra spirulina space is presently available, and it is called Immunity Boost. It does provide some natural methylcobalamin along with vitamin D3 from a vegetarian source.

The next batch is going to be VeganFolly and a smattering of B vitamins to give a full spectrum of those Bs. The flavor that it does have is from the B vitamins. It’s stabilized with sorbitol. You squirt it in the mouth. It’s bright blue. Because I know that the spirulina doesn’t taste at all, and I get a hint of the B vitamins, I’m like, “What I’m tasting is the B vitamins in this.”

We want to make sure we give it a holistic solution, not half a solution.

The dosage for this is relatively low. Two sprays twice a day is 1,000 IU of vitamin D3. You took part in the research that brought this forward. Why immunity boost? Why was that the first product with the Icelandic ultra spirulina?

The quest started from the COVID days. We thought that one way to live with COVID and different mutants is to make sure that we have a way to strengthen our immune system. We looked at the things that are known to support the immune systems and things that you can already have FDA- and FSAT-approved claims. We found a lot of them already in the vitamin B12 that I mentioned.

We said, “Let’s not give half a solution. Let’s do our best and give a complete solution. Because the amount that you need to use is small, why not have the spray? It can be absorbed not through the stomach.” Some things are lost in translation. They go through the stomach. It’s an attempt to show that science and nature can produce the best vehicle to support the immune system. That’s how it started.

It’s innocuous and tastes good. It’s easy to consume. My kids like it. We got hit in our household with influenza A. My 9-year-old had it bad. He had a high fever. I ended up with it. I’m still in a little bit of recovery. You might be able to hear a little nasal congestion. My throat is off, but I weathered it better than my 9-year-old did. It may have also been his first time getting the true flu. His immune system is now bouncing back and recovering. Some people in our community got hit a lot longer than either of us. It’s doing something for me. I keep taking it every day, along with my Omega-3.

Care More Be Better | Isaac Berzin | Algae Technology
Algae Technology: For Orlo picture: It tastes good. It is easy to consume and kids like it.

 

I’m curious to see, as we continue forward, what you would expect to see in the next several years. You have a view of where the technology can take us and things in the background and R&D that I don’t necessarily see. I understand you’re going to be coming here to the States to speak at an upcoming summit. What can you tell me about where we are today with this algae technology and what we can expect to see several years from now?

I look at spirulina as a bag of nutrition. There’s room to look at the different components and to find amazing usage for them. My heart is with those people who cannot afford the nutrition. They cannot afford to pay. In a way, we are fortunate to have these multiple revenue streams. You can use them to support a nutrition program. The Gates Foundation has spent a lot of time studying the best way to address malnutrition. Their conclusion was food fortification. You take traditional foods people are eating in different places in the world and add the missing nutritional elements, mainly vitamins and minerals, to their nutrition.

The immune spread is a select group of vitamins and minerals that does the trick. The only thing is you can afford it. They cannot afford it. My hope and passion is to bring it to such a situation that one part of the algae will support the others. The color, the Omega-3, the carbon credits, and other products would support the other side of the coin. Anytime you go, and you have your amazing shake in the morning, and it’s blue, vibrant, and full of the best of nature, some other kid in Tanzania can have his breakfast. There’s room for it.

I know how to put it all together in such a way that it’s going to still be a good business. I had an inspiring boss at MIT. His name is Bob Langer. He was a person who brought the scientific field of control release to the world. Bob is one of the richest people in Boston. He saved the lives of millions of people. You could do both. You could create an amazing business that would greatly benefit society, and we can do it with algae.

There’s a big movement towards more plant-based eating. One of the big challenges is getting enough protein. When you mention how much of the biomass of spirulina is protein, providing all nine essential amino acids, vitamin B12, and Hema iron, all of which are typically found in beef, it looks attractive as an alternative nutrition source that can be scalable and available to a large swath of the population who also may not want to eat cattle and chicken.

These things are becoming increasingly expensive. We’ve seen incredible inflation in the meat aisle at grocery stores since COVID began. We see and hear stories of things like there are eruptions of child labor even in meat packing plants now in some of the Midwest states and some flexing of state laws to allow for young teenagers to work in these meat packing plants. There are people from an ethical perspective who may not have been shy about eating meat before. They do not want to partake in that system.

I can see a day when something like this becomes more viable and available in the marketplace. That’s not soy or corn. We’re feeding soy and corn to our fish now. What are we doing? We’re eating animals that we feed soy and corn to. We wonder why we end up sick because all we’re eating is concentrated soy and corn.

We give people a nutritional choice. We’re not preaching or telling anyone how to live his life, but we’re enabling nutrition choices. I can tell you on a personal level. I know the price of not having. One of my daughters once realized that meats come from a dead animal. She was five years old, and on Thanksgiving, she saw the turkey. There was no mistake there. She refused to eat anything that was alive before. This was her expression, “Was this alive before?” I understand it. What happened was a severe lack of iron and vitamin B12, hair loss, problems concentrating, tiredness, and fatigue. There’s a long list of health issues.

You want to enable people to make their moral or nutritional choices without compromising their health. If you look at all the foods in the world, there’s nothing like beef. The closest food to beef from the nutritional point of view is Icelandic ultra spirulina. You can say it with confidence. It doesn’t mean that you have to chew algae. You can have it as an ingredient in your bread or ice cream. It could be a nutrition celebration. You don’t have to chew algae and have a green smile. It’s a choice we want to give people. This is your choice, and you choose what you want.

That’s why I am continuing to work with you on this project for this time, helping people understand what the differences are, the source, and why you have to do things the way you do to create responsible products. I will invite people to stay tuned at Örlö Nutrition. They can visit OrloNutrition.com and see some of the products that we’ve brought to market thus far, from omega-3s, Icelandic ultra spirulina, and our immunity boost product.

Readers of this show qualify for an extra 10% off. You can use the coupon code CMBB for Care More, Be Better. That’s CMBB at checkout, and you get an extra 10% off. That can mean you get as much as 25% off your order if you are subscribing to save now. I have one more question for you. This has to do with what other work in microalgae and macroalgae you’re seeing, perhaps performed by other companies that intrigues you and what we should be on the lookout for. What else is cool algae?

I will not mention names. I’ll tell you the principle. Microalgae is an untapped resource. I once read a book about the root systems of plants, which is called The Hidden Half because this is the half of the plant we don’t see. In our case, it’s the hidden 99.9% of the algae because out of the hundreds and thousands of microalgae strains in the world, do you know how many are allowed for human nutrition? It’s a handful and a half.

Care More Be Better | Isaac Berzin | Algae Technology
Algae Technology: For Orlo picture: Microalgae is an ant-trapped resource.

 

There are treasures out there of different strains with different nutrition values. We don’t know them. We never isolated and understood them. We never learned how to keep them happy. We lost the potential. Companies are looking into this to unleash the potential that this whole kingdom of micro has. It’s from nutrition to drugs to cures. It’s the foundation of life. Everything is there. It’s a mine that you need to go to and look for diamonds.

[bctt tweet=”Companies are looking to unleash the potential of the whole kingdom of microenergy. It is the foundation of life. It is like a mine that you need to go in and look for diamonds.” username=””]

I have seen some interesting innovations, from the foam in your sneaker souls to plastic replacement from algae. You could have a bioplastic from some species of algae that perhaps are growing in algae blooms that end up being captured. Different innovations are happening in this space. I have a lot of faith in scientists like yourself to figure out how we can commercialize some of these applications to create a greener future. One in which we aren’t operating from extractive principles all the time.

I love the full circular perspective that we get from this algae, especially understanding that the world’s first life forms are microalgae. Fish get their omega-3s from the algae they consume. If we’re going to that original source of energy and for nutrients that help us create energy, we do not have to capture yesterday’s energy to create the energy we need now. We do not have to extract oil from underground or from our seabeds to fuel our vehicles. We can find another way.

I’m confident that we’re going to be shifting the tide in this direction. This is what helps me stay optimistic in the face of the bad news that we get with climate change. We had another atmospheric river come through my hometown in Northern California. I have had to spend a considerable amount of my cash assets on making flood abatement projects around the homework so that I don’t flood in the studio.

We are seeing the impacts of climate change. With the real hard work that is being done behind the scenes at many companies out there that are exploring algae tech, that are exploring energy technologies, we’re going to see a new wave of innovation that may even make the electric car that we see today obsolete and get replaced with something completely new.

If you think about the history of humankind, once we realize we cannot grab bananas in the jungle because we’re out of bananas, we find a way to cultivate them and grow them. We’ve already experienced several revolutions led by technologies that make things different. We’re on the edge of the next revolution. We cannot continue this way. We’re driving to the cliff, but you have to be optimistic that we’re going to find a way not to drive into the cliff but to build a bridge around it.

We find a way to leap over the next big leap. It’s coming. I’m not sure what it is yet. I feel like we’re on the precipice of something big. I’m remaining optimistic. That’s a choice every day. For all my climate activist friends who are reading, I hope that you can get up and make the choice to remain optimistic. I even have an entire episode dedicated to the concept of climate optimism as I interviewed Anne Therese Gennari, the Climate Optimist on this show. I’ll encourage my audience to go back and read that episode because we need to keep a positive outlook to keep the creative mind going. We can stay solutions-focused and create the next big change. Thank you so much for joining me, Isaac. This has been awesome.

Care More Be Better | Isaac Berzin | Algae Technology
Algae Technology: For VAXA building picture: We are on the edge of network revolution. We cannot continue this way. But you have to be optimistic and find a way not to drive into the cliff and take the next big leap.

 

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

It has always been my pleasure to host conversations with Isaac Berzin. I have had the pleasure of knowing him now since 2016. I’m seeing his genius at work in the field of algae technologies as it relates to nutrition and health. I encourage everyone here to take a look at our show notes. I’ll provide direct links to Vaxa.Life. That’s the website for Vaxa Technologies and their facility in Iceland. You can even watch coverage on the BBC and perhaps even catch an article on National Geographic about this innovative facility.

You can also always go to OrloNutrition.com and visit the website and peruse the products that are presently available. More are on the horizon and soon. I want to thank all of you for spending this time with me. Remember that this show is an invitation to care more. We together can create a better world. Thank you, readers, now and always for being a part of this show and this community because together, we can do so much more. We can care more. We can be better. We can create the beautiful future that we want. We need to stay optimistic along the way. Thank you.

 

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