[Kelp Biosystem]BIOSYSTEM

High fast food demand especially for burgers, is causing not only health problems but also environmental issues. As beef is the major meat source of burger patties, more and more trees were cut down in order to farm cattle. Turns out that livestock, especially the emissions of cows are the major contributor to greenhouse gas pollution. How might we push a more balanced and nutritious diet and mitigate food insecurity in Rhode Island while considering the environmental aspect? As Rhode Island is well-known for seafood, we decided to anchor around the native regenerative food source here called sugar kelp, and create an ecosystem around it.

The kelp powder system provides a low-cost nutritious solution that seamlessly integrates into Rhode Islanders’ daily dietary while reducing more than 82% of greenhouse gas pollution produced by cattle. By turning sugar kelp into the form of powder, it becomes a longer-lasting, preservable nutritional ingredient that could be easily introduced into many different types of food recipes.

In this system, we focused on the fast food and convenience food industry. Instead of selling the kelp powder directly to customers as a form of seasoning, we chose a more affordable and seamless way by mixing kelp powder into foods such as meat patties and/ or canned food to increase the percentage of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants during the process of food production. The uneaten food waste or excessed food waste could be donated to the USDA Donation Center and food bank and be provided to people in need with the necessary nutrients. It could also become feed for livestock or be easily decomposed.

The secondary form of food recipe that we included in the system is cattle feed. Researches show that introducing kelp to the current feed which is a mixture of soy and crop, reduces the emission of methane by cows substantially. The healthier diet of cows also provides better meat sources for burgers and further forms a healthier cycle for the ecosystem.

Lastly, the kelp powder product including those with flawed packaging could also be donated to USDA Donation Center as a nonperishable food source that helps stock the shelves at food banks and pantries, and further, be added to other donated food to increase the nutrients in the community diet.
Role: Researcher

Program: Brown+RISD MA Design Engineering RISD Nature Lab

Year: 2022

Collaborators: Bill Xi [Video], Selena [Research Assistant]