A Spanish chef with three Michelin stars has discovered that seagrass, a tiny and little-loved marine plant, produces what is actually rice.
His adoption of this grain in cooking techniques is now simply part of his mission to repair seagrass ecosystems around the world, which he says could serve not only to stop global warming, but also to feed it. .
Ángel León is famous for his innovative seafood, and combining his love of the sea with his knowledge of its often unexpected payoff, he recently earned a third Michelin star for his restaurant. Appointing, and propelled him to gastronomic stardom in his country of Spain.
While the Bay of Cádiz, where he lives, always had green arms of seagrass (eelgrass to be specific) lined up on its shoreline, its rise to culinary greatness has offset a gradual decline in seagrass cover, along with a decline global in Seagrass habitat struggling to survive human activity and warming seas.
With his discovery, noted by the guardian As only the second documented case of eating seagrass grains, León hopes it will lead to a complete revolution in the way we look at our coasts, which could become “sea gardens.”
A superfood and a superhero
GNN has reported on the amazing nature of seagrass as a carbon absorber and habitat builder, specifically that it can capture carbon 32 times faster than a rainforest. The potential of adding a superfood grain to your portfolio calls for the restoration of seagrass meadows around the world.
And it is truly a superfood. Starting in 2017, León began testing the small green grains of “marine rice” with the University of Cádiz, which one day he noticed emerging from the plant. They found that it was gluten-free and contained 50% more protein than regular rice, as well as containing large amounts of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids.
His research led to a pilot study on growing seagrass as a crop, across three separate plots totaling just under an acre of marshland.
It wasn’t until the plants gave their beans, 18 months later, that Leon realized that he hadn’t even tasted them. Maybe they would taste unpleasant, he wondered nervously, according to The Guardian.
However, like many undesirable parts of the sea and its creatures that León has successfully integrated into his kitchen, he subjected the greenish-yellow rice grains to a battery of different preparations.
“It’s interesting. When you eat it with the shell, similar to brown rice, it has a touch of the sea at the end,” said León. “But without the shell, you don’t taste the sea.”
León hopes that the success of rice as a potential food, the lack of pesticides and fertilizers used during its growth, as well as the fact that its nutritional quality compensates for a lower yield than its terrestrial counterpart, will propel countries and organizations forward. to grow it on a large scale, regenerating ocean ecosystems, capturing humanity’s carbon, and filling our stomachs.
“We have set ourselves the challenge of creating the first and only R&D center specialized in the cultivation of marine vegetation in the world,” reads Aponiente’s presentation on its website.
“The objective is to continue investigating this marine grain, as it may be the key to mitigating the effects of climate change. We also aim to restore aquatic ecosystems, develop future marine crops that have so far been grown only on land, and work to make the ‘ocean garden’ a reality ”.
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