Spirulina from the Landes – Les Annonces Landaises

Traditionally used on the shores of Lake Chad, the microscopic organisms, often mistakenly called blue algae, have been hand-cultivated in the Landes for a decade. Met this little militant producer.

Turning to “Petit Larousse illustré”, we learn that spirulina is a “hot and brackish water cyanobacterium, harvested in Africa and India for human and animal food, cultivated industrially for the manufacture of diet foods”. The definition can now be changed because in France, according to the French Spirulina Federation (FSF), there are hundreds of small producers who are recreating these natural living conditions on their farms, in greenhouses to heat the ‘water’.


At the Spiruline des Landes, one of the atypical cultural pioneers in the department, exactly 10 years ago, Camille Dameron operates today the Parentis-en-Born, three 600 m2 covered pools, as well as another open-air pool in research and development . On the road to Lahitte, near the lake where he built his project on the family farm, the aquaculture graduate from Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle high school (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and La Rochelle University (Charente -Maritime ) where he found spirulina, explains that in winter, the pool is silent: “Thermal factor is limiting. For bacteria to reproduce by cell division, an optimum temperature of 37°C is required, a pH between 9 and 11, and a brackish salinity. [entre l’eau douce et l’eau salée, NDLR] ; I use salt from Salies-de-Béarn for quality. The season is mainly from April to October, and each spring begins again on its own. If the soil is warm and the water temperature is good, it regenerates in the late afternoon, immediately after it is harvested. »

At Camille Dameron, in Parentis-en-Born, production ranges from harvesting in the basin as a liquid puree to pressing in the machine to finish in crisp flakes or tablets © Bernard Dugros

Its strain is interchangeable with other French producers, coming from Lake Chad where spirulina is always alive in its natural state, and is traditionally consumed in the form of pastries. Fresh, in season, spirulina is highly perishable. It is also banned for sale in this form in France for fear of bacterial growth. Therefore, 100% of the production is dehydrated. In his small workshop attached to his home, this micro-algae specialist, who has also worked with pearl oysters in Tahiti, describes the steps from harvesting in a basin in a liquid puree to pressing in a machine to obtain a sort of paste. to shape before forming into spaghetti to finish with small crunchy twigs or tablets.


“We dry them at 42°C all afternoon, so our farmer’s products have a better taste. Among manufacturers of spirulina, as in China in particular, this step is carried out at 200°C: a lot of nutrients are then lost”, assures people who boast of their products “nutrition bomb”, “a solution to reduce malnutrition. in Africa”. Former president of the FSF 2019-2020, he has also participated in the Spir’Sol project, the solidarity network of the Federation of Spirulina farmers to develop farmer agriculture around the world or distribute spirulina to malnourished populations such as around Gao in northern Mali. Enough to compensates for the loss of animal protein Its annual production is 200 to 300 kg mainly sold directly in markets and at home (50%), in shops in the area as far as Bordeaux (40%) and in online stores (10%), for an annual turnover from 30,000 to 40,000 euros.

This season is mainly from April to October

“At first I had a hard time, I ate a lot of pasta! The bank was very careful, they lent me 50,000 euros when I planned to invest 300,000 euros. But in the end I bought the raw materials and made everything myself! My dad helps me a lot with the lab. It took seven to eight years to make it work. In a year, I will finish repaying my loan, everything is growing,” explained Camille Dameron, who recently became a sponsor of Stade Montois thanks to his childhood friend Yoann Laousse Azpiazu, a professional rugby player: “The players ordered tablets for me, there were a lot Highly available protein and iron, these can help sustain exertion. »

In a twig with a slight taste of pipis, mushroom or beef broth, depending on taste, in short with a certain taste, spirulina has its followers, simply put in salads for a little crunch, as a condiment for pasta carbonara… Intrigued by this local production, pastry chef from Le Born have used it to decorate chouquettes, chouchous and even chocolate.


Coming from New Caledonia to the Landes for her studies, Julie Devic has set up her farm in Campagne © JD


From the village of Campagne, a quarter of an hour from Mont-de-Marsan, where she founded her business in 2013, Julie Devic also makes soap, shortbread, muffins and even spring rolls, samosas or veggie burgers, which she sells especially on Saturdays at the market. Saint-Roch in Mont-de-Marsan and in summer the fairs of producers are held in the village of Landes by the chambers of agriculture. “In this big meat lover’s department, at first there were only women who came to see me for spring rolls. And then, the samosas, fatty and crunchy, and also the burger brings everyone together! laughing people who operate six pools of more than 480 m2.

With an average annual turnover of between 30,000 and 40,000 euros, and only 27,000 euros last year, due to a new baby in the family, “it is difficult to live on spirulina, so I added the catering side to my activities”, explains a young woman from New Caledonia , who arrived in Dax to study: at BTS plant technology at the Oeyreluy agricultural school before obtaining a license to increase the price of local produce in Paul.

After launching a touring truck in the Southwest for Excel Foie Gras, he came across spirulina by chance: “My grandmother was sick, we were looking for a food that could give her a lot without eating too much. My uncle knew a spirulina producer near Montpellier”, recalls the man who would end up on a farm in Orthez to learn all about cyanobacteria from Déborah Charlemagne, a pioneer trainer in the field. “It’s incredibly rich in protein, vitamins A and B12, iron, and trace elements,” pleads Julie Devic, seeing her as the food of the future.

It’s hard to live on spirulina, so I added the catering side to my activities

While working in the seed laboratory in Maïsadour, he searched for soil, which he found in Campagne within six months. In 2016, it won the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Innovation Trophy, awarded at the Paris Agricultural Show for its spirulina. Initially, “I only paid for the land, a used greenhouse, and a small wooden chalet for my laboratory. For spring, I have to renovate all my greenhouses, I have to tweak them to make it less expensive”, predicts the person who has been investing since last November, in a mini food truck, like a trailer attached to it. cars, thanks to crowdfunding on the Ulule platform.

Every Thursday in Saint-Perdon where he lives, he now offers New Caledonian and Asian cuisine (chicken with coconut milk, pork with sugar, accras, stir-fried soybean vermicelli, etc.), in addition to his mixed salad with spirulina, “spiru burger”, “ lagoon cake” – striking blue spirulina -, or gomasio, a delicious mix of flaxseed, sesame, dried onions and spirulina. And that day, all her dishes were for sale in the village square, so her Fridays in the lab ended up late making samosas to supply Mons’ customers at the Saturday morning market.


Present for billions of years, spirulina has resided in fresh or slightly saline water lakes, concentrated in mineral salts, and at high pH, ​​throughout the planet’s intertropical belt. Often thought of as a micro-algae, it is actually a photosynthetically capable cyanobacterium, absorbing large amounts of CO2, while rejecting oxygen thanks to various pigments including phycocyanin (the color blue). Very rich in protein (65%), iron, beta-carotene, vitamins B12, B, E, K, potassium, magnesium, etc., it was designated as the “food of the future” in 1974 by the United Nations. Very popular among vegetarians and some athletes in Western countries, some promote it as a product to combat dietary deficiencies in developing countries.

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