You may have overlooked this tiny organism until now, but 2017 might very well be the year of algae. Don’t believe it? It’s already in baking mixes, cookies, milk, nondairy creamers, vegan eggs, salad dressing, ice-cream, smoothies, and protein powders, to name a few. Soon, the extract from spirulina––a form of microalgae––will provide the color for blue M&Ms. Prefer the green ones? It can do that, too.

Algae have been floating around in research and development labs for decades, but, until recently, no one could make it taste good or, really, answer questions of what to do with it. Solazyme, a San Francisco Bay Area company, has been growing algae for well over a decade and is still betting big that its oils and powders will be what food manufacturers reach for when reformulating their products for fewer calories, lower fat, and less cholesterol. The company is so sure that it’s on the right path that it has abandoned a significant portion of its original business––biofuels made from algae––refined its focus to humans, pets, and personal-care products and changed its name to TerraVia.

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