My only experience with spirulina is that a former roommate used to sprinkle it on top of her cat’s food. That kind of put me off it, but maybe I’m missing something? Maybe there are enough spirulina die-hards out there to warrant the Spirugrow Kickstarter project, a new countertop appliance that cultivates fresh spirulina in your kitchen.
Spirulina is an algae-based super food high in protein and anti-oxidants. You add it to drinks or food, and can even use as a face mask. You can buy spirulina in a dried form at the market, but the creators of the Spirugrow say that the dried version loses its potency, tastes bad and isn’t traceable. So they created Spirugrow, a machine that uses a combination of CO2, nutrients, water and salt to create fresh spirulina, which, from the promo video, looks like a thick, dark green almost gelatenous liquid.
I love that Kickstarter allows people to follow their bliss, create a very specific product, and connect with a community of like-minded people looking for that same bliss. Kickstarter’s given us the PicoBrew, and launched Suvie and the Yomee. All of which are very exciting. And while I’m all for people eating superfoods, I’m having a harder time getting jazzed about Spirugrow, mainly because I think they are going after the wrong market.
First, there’s the price. Very early birds can pick up a Spirugrow for €471 ($549 USD). That is not cheap for a device that makes something you eat 5 grams of per day (the machine make 20 grams at a time), and that doesn’t even take into consideration the cost for replacement nutrient cartridges. Spirugrow is also big, coming in at 17 inches wide and tall, and 14 inches deep. And while I’m sure that the ability to grow fresh algae on your counter is a feat of modern engineering, the process is complicated.
There are a lot of steps — add CO2 cartridge, connect hoses, add water, add nutrient cartridge, add “inoculum,” add salt, add filter — then wait for 24 hours. Not to mention the disassembling and cleaning and disinfecting that needs to happen on a regular basis.
Like I said, I’m sure Spirugrow is the result of a ton of research and development and hard work, and it is a good looking machine. I just don’t know how many consumers would want to spend $500+ for a single-use device that only makes a dietary supplement and has to stay on the kitchen counter for literally days in order for the user to get the most out of it. You might be saving some money making your own rather than buying it at the store, but you’d have to really love spirulina to get the most value out of it.
It seems like at that price point, they should go after natural foods markets, juice bars, smoothie shops and healthy cafés. Establishments that will have the money, space and customers who would actually appreciate the freshness of the spirulina. Kind of like how Carbine Coffee will enable supermarkets and cafés to roast their own coffee.
As of this publication, Spirugrow has raised $33,860 of its $69,681 goal with 19 days to go. We’re always rooting for new kitchen tech to succeed here at The Spoon, and while I can honestly say I haven’t seen anything like the Spirugrow before, I just don’t know if this homemade superfood can find a super large home audience.