[The Azolla Cooking and Cultivation Project. Installation view. Photo: Erik Sjödin]
Last month I got some bakers in Amersfoort to bake sourdough bread with Azolla. The bread would probably have tasted better without Azolla, but it might be healthier with it. It might also cause brain damage. Though probably not, and only if you eat very large quantities of it over a long period of time. Which most people wouldn’t since it doesn’t taste that great.
It’s difficult to say if Azolla in food will become something. It could become a nutritional supplement if further studies prove that it’s healthy, or if people are forced to eat it to avoid starvation or malnutrition. Having worked with this plant on and off for more than six years now, I’ve come to think that Azolla has the most potential as a nitrogen sink and fertiliser in areas where it’s already growing. In India, for example, it’s not uncommon to see people collecting dirty water from small ponds or wells. Azolla could probably be grown in many of these ponds and possibly prevent evaporation, clean the water, deter malaria mosquitos from laying eggs, and be harvested and used as a fertiliser, all at the same time.