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Health & Nutrition

Rhode Island spirulina farmer playing the Tom Brady factor

January 18, 2016
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Rhode Island spirulina farmer

Sheldon Whitehouse, US Senator from Rhode Island, (right) visits with Agcore’s President Larry Dressler and views their COPAS patented carbon capture and utilization technology and algae farm.

J dropcapenna Pelletier writes in the providence (Rhode Island) Journal that Lawrence Dressler, a Cranston, Rhode Island spirulina farmer has been getting some fresh publicity lately thanks to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. His family’s personal chef recently revealed, in an interview with Boston.com, that spirulina is part of the football player’s restrictive — no mushrooms, let alone sugar — diet.

“I was flabbergasted to hear guys discussing spirulina on WEEI (sports radio) the other day,” said Mr. Dressler, who cultivates it through his startup company, Agcore Technologies. “It’s a big boost for our superfood.”

Mr. Dressler’s 5,000-square-foot greenhouse is filled with more than 100 ceiling-high vessels of the algae. Come harvest, at least a few times a week, year-round, he and his team drain and strain the liquid, then dehydrate the mud-like remains.

Spirulina is typically sent to store shelves in the form of ready-to-swallow tablets or powder that can be added to smoothies and other food. Brady’s chef, Allen Campbell, uses the algae to boost the nutritional content of dehydrated fruit-roll-up-style snacks made with bananas and pineapple.

Mr. Dressler, who said he operates the only spirulina farm on the East Coast, sees endless possibilities in the dark green sludge. In addition to promoting spirulina salad dressings, ice-cream toppings and blueberry muffins, he has also created prototypes of powders that combine spirulina with chia and flax seeds. He learned large-scale food production while working at his family’s now-defunct Pawtucket-based vegetable oil company, Colfax. “You can put this in any food product to boost up the nutrients, boost up the protein,” he said.

Mr. Dressler envisions it becoming more mainstream soon, similar to the way kale, quinoa and chia seeds have become trendy in recent years. So, he’s preparing for a spirulina craze. He plans to double his production space by the summer and move from selling most of his crop wholesale as fish food to marketing it for human consumption.

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