Truth be told, it’s going outside that gets me to exercise at all. I’m dependent on the beauty of nature. The gym is not for me. On most days, I walk outside in the gardens and parks and on the sidewalks because I don’t own a car. I made a Prospect Park Pinterest page to post some of the photos I take in Brooklyn’s Botanic Garden and Prospect Park with my crappy phone. This week I am gaga about the pond scum – algae – growing on the water in the ancient artificial pond in The Vale of Cashmere. The Vale is aptly described as “a strangely forsaken forest idyll in Prospect Park” in this photo essay. The lush formal garden is sunk into a glacial kettle where the wildlife live and play.
Pond scum – algae – are as much animal as plant. They contain chlorophyll and other plant pigments, but they don’t have stems, roots, or leaves. They have a true nucleus (plant cells do not) enclosed in a cell membrane with lots of DNA functions going on inside.
Someday, algae could save the world. Scientists are growing algae that convert sugars into hydrocarbon fuel to replace oil, plus algae can convert sugars into fat that, compared to traditional fats, has a healthier nutrient composition, a smooth mouth-feel and a rich taste that makes it perfect for baked goods. This new, sustainable fat works as a partial substitute for butter, eggs and even meat and growing it takes up so little space. We already eat algae as carrageenan, Irish moss seaweed, in ice cream, soy milk, and beer. Craig Venter, algae geneticist and entrepreneur, tells Scientific American, “Algae is a farming problem: growing, harvesting, extracting. It’s a work in progress, and we’re working hard.”
Pond scum saves the world! How great is that?
Your thoughts: Are you an algae fan?