This Food Tech Startup Might’ve Just Made the Most Sustainable Burger Yet

Introducing the "umami tsnunami," a kelp-based burger from a new New York company

A kelp-based burger on a plate.
This burger was produced without ANY freshwater. Seriously.

Thanks to a plant-based renaissance over the last five years or so, vegetarians have more options at backyard BBQs than ever before. There are Beyond burgers. There are Impossible burgers. There are black bean burgers, beet burgers, halloumi burgers, portobello mushroom burgers, quinoa burgers, seitan burgers, and tofu burgers.

And now, believe it or not, there’s a kelp burger. Recently debuted by New York City-based food tech startup AKUA, the patty is non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, and created from a combination of kelp, mushrooms, and natural ingredients — think pea protein, black beans, quinoa, and coconut.

And unlike the majority of plant-based burgers out there, the “meat” of this burger is produced without freshwater. The kelp is ocean-farmed, and doesn’t need any chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides to grow. It also doesn’t require arable land and doesn’t rely on any form of marine life for food. It just grows on its own (and like a weed; some species of kelp can grow as quickly as two to three feet per day), while soaking up carbon dioxide that would otherwise acidify the ocean.

It’s extremely nutritious for you to eat, too. Kelp contains: iodine, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, “more soluble fiber than most fruits or vegetables,” antioxidants, folic acids, vitamins A, B1, B12, C, D, E, riboflavin, and niacin. Its natural umami flavor also lends itself to a meatier taste … which sort of comes in handy when you’re trying to replicate a burger.

For those skeptical of trading in an Angus quarter pounder for a “seaweed burger,” know that the brains behind this operation, entrepreneur Courtney Boyd Meyers, has been on the kelp-meat grind for years. She started out with kelp jerky (which you can find here), before graduating to the burger. By all accounts, AKUA is an excellent addition to the plant-based alternatives lineup. And for now at least, it might be the most sustainable option we’ve got. Shop the burgers online here and try them out for yourself.

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