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Seaweed spag bol urged for healthy living

AAP logoAAP 15/11/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Thousands of years ago, mammoth was on the menu.

Soon, seaweed-infused spag bol will be regularly served on dinner tables around Australia - well that's the hope of marine ecologist Dr Pia Winberg.

Seaweed is not only good for you but it's a sustainable food source that is good for the environment too, told delegates at the BBC's Future World-Changing Ideas Summit in Sydney on Tuesday.

Seaweed has an opportunity in disrupting the food production system, which is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, by offering sustainability solutions, Dr Winberg, CEO of Venus Shell Systems Pty, told AAP.

At the same time seaweed is very good for you, added Dr Winberg.

It is a good source of omega 3, iodine and dietary fibre.

Currently, seaweed is a six billion dollar global crop, with 95 per cent farmed in South East Asia and China.

Dr Winberg says the West needs to start looking at systems to cultivate this sustainable and healthy food source.

"The future of seaweed production is going to be in farming, not through wild harvest, because there's not enough in the wild to do that," she said.

But getting the ordinary person in Australia to buy some "smelly green powder" is the greatest challenge confronting the seaweed business.

Dr Winberg acknowledges it would be "idealistic" to expect people to start cooking with it just because it's offered on the shelves.

"We have to start looking at introducing it into mainstream foods," she said.

"I've taken spaghetti bolognese as the national dish, eaten in most households most nights of the week in Australia, and saying if you have a good durham semolina pasta which is made with 10 per cent seaweed in it then you've actually ingested a nutritionally valid dose of seaweed without having to change your practices."

Australian nutritionist and dietician Dr Rosemary Stanton, who joined Tuesday's 'Future of Food' discussion with Dr Winberg, says seaweed is a healthy and economical produce but wouldn't have to be eaten everyday.

"It can only ever make up a smallish part of the diet, but it's an important part of the diet and it could replace other seafoods," she said.

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