I can’t say this enough: It’s not a drug. It’s not a vitamin. It’s a food. Period. It is a complete package that contains protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fatty acids, amino acids, and a wide variety of minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron, as well as a full range of vitamins. You could theoretically eat nothing but phytoplankton! Realistically, of course, you’d never do this, any more than you’d eat nothing but a big bowl of vitamins every day. Our product may not be purpose-built from the ground up as a synthetic vitamin, but you can still treat it as a healthy, natural supplement. It contains a little bit of everything and works best when added to a foundation of more commonly available staple foods. You don’t need much of it, as long as you take it regularly.

But what is phytoplankton, exactly? Where does it come from? How long has it been around, and why haven’t we heard about it before now? Simply put, think about the forests and jungles we have here on dry land, teeming with all sorts of exotic plant and animal life, with new species still waiting to be discovered… now think about the oceans, teeming with aquatic life. Just like on dry land, the earth’s waters are home to a complex ecosystem of plants and animals. Everything from whales, the largest living creatures on the planet, right down to the smallest organisms like krill and shrimp. It’s easy to think of rich coral reefs and tropical coves the same way we think of lush jungles and rainforests, and they serve a similar role in the ecosystem. There’s a reason the oceans are sometimes called the lungs of the earth: Scientists guess that the oceans and seas provide anywhere from 50% to 80% of the breathable oxygen in earth’s atmosphere (They haven’t narrowed it down yet, but we’ll get to that), so there’s a bit of fresh ocean spray in every single breath we take.

And we have phytoplankton to thank for that. The word originates from the Greek terms phyton, meaning “plant,” and planktos, meaning “wanderer” or “drifter.” They exist as a cloud of microscopic organisms that drift through surface-level waters freely, with no roots to anchor them in place. These tiny cells are mostly invisible to the naked eye, except as a green tint on the surface of the water caused by the presence of chlorophyll. I’m sure you’ve heard that scientific term before! Sure enough, phytoplankton is “autotrophic:” It takes in sunlight, and uses photosynthesis to turn simple local materials into the complex organic compounds they need to survive. It’s the foundation of all life in the oceans and the lynchpin of the natural food cycle, just as plants serve as the basis for us land-based organisms. You might wonder why our products have a distinctly fishy taste. Technically, our product doesn’t taste like fish… it’s the fish that taste like phytoplankton!

How long has it been around? Quite a long time, it turns out. Life on earth began in the ocean when Earth began and these microscopic plants been with us ever since. You can think of it as an almost literal “primordial soup mix” of sorts: Phytoplankton exist in a staggering variety of different species, and because they drift and mingle freely, a single population can contain countless different types, each with their own unique organic compositions. Even a single gram of concentrated phytoplankton has the biodiversity of an entire forest! Scientists have known for a while that the oceans are an important source of biodiversity, but the details are still uncertain. That’s part of the reason we don’t know exactly how much of earth’s oxygen originates from the oceans: It’s easy for scientists to measure how much oxygen a single phytoplankton cell can produce, but we don’t know how much phytoplankton there is in the ocean.

Studies are ongoing, and these are exciting times for those interested in the earth’s aquatic ecosystem. But as with any ecological research, there’s a darker side: Studies suggest that global populations of marine phytoplankton have declined significantly over the past century, by about40%, at an average rate of 1% a year. Details are still uncertain and the data is highly variable, but it’s no surprise that global warming and pollution are thought to be the cause. It’s a new field of study, and the difficulty of getting reliable numbers has scientists scratching their heads trying to figure out what’s really going on. In spite of the uncertainty, the scientific community generally agrees that the total amount of phytoplankton in the earth’s oceans will decline over the next century. Exactly why, and by how much, remains to be discovered.

While our primary goal with Karen Phytoplankton is to provide humans with solid nutrition, we feel we have a strong responsibility to respect the environment. People have been demanding dolphin and whale friendly harvesting practices from fishing companies, and are becoming more aware of the impact of overharvesting. We want to assure you that all of our products are cultivated in enclosed hydroponics facilities, just as fruits and vegetables can be grown in a sealed greenhouse, and are not harvested from the oceans directly. The facilities do draw water from the ocean to serve as a healthy and natural environment for our product to grow in, but this water is returned to the ocean in pristine condition with no chemical or biological pollution whatsoever. The various blends of phytoplankton we use are completely non-GMO, selected from existing natural species, so there’s zero risk of genetically modified strains escaping into the environment and becoming an invasive species.

We’re all a part of the world, and anything that affects the environmental so affects us. Life began in the oceans a long time ago. We may be working to move humanity forward in the field of nutrition, but we like to remember where we
came from.

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