Azolla, detail. Photo: Erik Sjödin.
The 2007 biofuels fiasco resulted when the demand for corn-based ethanol came in direct conflict with other needs, such as food. Since then, scientists have been particularly focused on developing biofuels and bioplastics from inedible sources like switchgrass in order to avoid this conflict.
Another approach is to reconsider our edible resources themselves. A search for a rapidly renewable foodstuff has drawn attention to azolla, a fast-growing, edible aquatic fern with a high nutritional value. Azolla's ability to fix nitrogen and double its biomass in mere days makes it a good candidate for polycultural farming practices as well as space missions. It has also attracted the interest of Swedish artist Erik Sjödin, who calls it "the fast food of the future" and a “green gold mine.” Sjodin's Super Meal project, which explores azolla's potential as a more sustainable foodstuff as well as a future biofuel, is now on display at Stockholm's Färgfabriken contemporary art and architecture center.