Good, though dated, background information on Chlorella

By Gregory McMahan
Tottori, Japan

Amazon Book Review
October 27, 2000

This text is a fast and enjoyable read that can be done in two hours or less. The book presents a brief summary of previous research on Chlorella, citing its possible benefits, in a very useful and non-technical manner. However, it reads more like two very terse, informative pamphlets strung together than a regular full blown text.


    The text is a single volume divided into two books- Book I and Book II. Book I deals with the proposed health benefits of Chlorella, while Book II covers research into this particular algae done over a period covering the late sixties to the early eighties. Book I gives a good history and definition of Chlorella, and elaborates at length about its nutritional composition (amino acid, fatty acid, and vitamin & mineral content)and unique attributes; however, it does not make any useful comparisons between Chlorella and other beneficial foodstuffs. Book I also explains how best to use Chlorella, and provides several recipes to help the reader get started in cooking with Chlorella. In addition, two of the companies mentioned in the first book, the Sun Chlorella Company, (the Japanese pioneer in Chlorella cultivation and marketing) and Earthrise Farms, (located in Southern California) continue do a brisk business in this green algae both nationally and internationally.


    Book II provides a good summary of Chlorella research up to about 1980 or so as well as a layman's introduction to the field of algae cultivation research. As such, given its 1984 publication date, the book is dated but still relevant. Book II also introduces most of the possible applications of Chlorella, from its use as a food supplement and health food to its potential use in wastewater treatment and purification and space travel. One particular topic in the second book, Chlorella and the elimination of world hunger, harks back to research performed in the sixties and seventies on what came to be known as Single Cell Protein (SCP). British, Australian and Kiwi fans of Qourn, Marmite and Vegemite, products consisting mainly of cultured yeast/fungi, are actually eating a form of SCP. Book II puts forth some interesting ideas which have unfortunately not been followed up since the mid-eighties, for one reason or another. Finally, both sections of the book include a fairly broad and detailed bibliography so that the more curious or critical reader can follow up on Chlorella on his or her own.


    The book does have a couple of minor drawbacks. Besides the dated nature of the material, Book I in particular needs a more stringent round of editing. Nonetheless the text still manages to be readable and informative. Second, though Book I does give a good summary of the positives of Chlorella use, Book II does not do the same. The reader has to make a mental list of the positives and negatives associated with Chlorella cultivation (and microalgae cultivation in general) on his or her own.


    Overall, this is a great introductory text for the curious or the informed layperson as well as those students having an interest in the algae and possessing some background in the biosciences. I personally hope that the authors follow up with an updated version which includes a summary of more recent research.