Pros: Delicious, nutritious, and a good value by comparison to other brands.
Cons: It's "pesticide free" but not organic certified.
I've been enjoying Nutrex Spirulina Pacifica for many years. It's delicious and full of protein and vitamins. If you have trouble getting all the "leafy greens" you should, this food is a great supplement to use.
I make smoothies with this stuff and they are quite satisfying, both in terms of nutrients and in terms of hunger.
Spirulina is a powder made from blue-green algae cultivated in ponds. It is rich in potassium, calcium, and B vitamins as well as protein. NASA considers it a promising food source for eventual long term space missions due to its rich and comprehensive nutritional value, and sustainability of cultivation.
Each serving is defined by Nutrex as 1 teaspoon or 3 grams. And in that 3 gram serving you'll get 2 grams of protein. That's right, spirulina is over 2/3 protein! It contains all of the essential amino acids, which makes it a comprehensive protein nutrient. You can consume the suggested serving size of 1 teaspoon per day or much more. Consider it a food, not a vitamin.
A couple of details about this particular brand and product. It's made in Hawaii, for whatever that's worth. They repeat the word hawaii/hawaiian a total of 6 times on the bottle, so you can tell they're pretty excited about it. All it means to me is that it had to be shipped a long distance to get to me.
It comes in a brown glass bottle with an oxygen absorber inside to keep it fresh and potent. In fact the huge oxygen absorbing envelope inside the bottle is a real pain in the butt. It is so large it is difficult to work around when you're trying to spoon some out. It is an extremely dense and fine powder - easy to make a mess with if you're not careful.
The label says "all natural" and "pesticide free" but, notably, it is not certified organic. There are other brands readily available which are.
I find this brand is generally a good value. You can find the 5oz. bottle for around $12 if you shop around, which is reasonable by comparison to other brands on the shelf. Consider that the 5oz. bottle contains 47 servings, and the value becomes apparent.
As you may know, Spirulina is the green ingredient in Odwalla's "superfood" drink. The personal size 8oz. Odwalla doesn't say how much Spirulina they add, but it does say it contains 2 grams of protein, so let's assume they are adding a teaspoon. This personal size can rarely be found for as little as $3, usually costing $4 or more. It is also flash-pasteurized, which may have an effect on the nutritional value of the ingredients.
I prefer to make something very like "superfood" at home. Here's my recipe. These are Whole Foods prices off my last receipt, so you can probably do even better if you shop around.
1) 32oz. jar of pineapple juice ($3.69)
2) 2 bannanas ($0.59)
3) 6oz. can of coconut milk ($0.69)
4) Juice of one lemon ($0.79)
5) 3+ tablespoons of Spirulina ($2.40)
a. Blend everything before the Spirulina goes in.
b. Keeping the blender ON at low speed, remove the lid, or if your lid has a hatch, open that
c. Drop the Spirulina into the moving smoothie. If you spoon Spirulina powder into still fluid, it will clump and get gross.
This drink comes out dark green and absolutely delicious. If you fear the taste of Spirulina, this recipe will turn you around. It has no "grass clipping" taste, contrary to rumor. The pineapple and coconut go together amazingly, and the lemon juice brings the entire drink together. Taste it before and after adding the Spirulina. I doubt you will sense any difference, despite the dramatic change in color.
Adding up the numbers, that's $8.16 for what comes out to about 48oz. of drink. Which is $1.36 for a single serving of 8oz. Compare that to over $4 for the Odwalla. And each 8oz. serving of my recipe will get you 1.5 servings of Spirulina instead of just one. You could stretch your Spirulina even further and extend your value.
Now you might say the Odwalla has wheat grass and "jerusalem" artichoke but if you ask me these are pretty redundant nutrient wise and present only in teeny amounts anyway, just enough to get their fancy-sounding names on the label.
So Odwalla is an easy target, but how does Spirulina stack up against all those "green food" tablets and drink mixes out there? I really don't know. I haven't researched them.
There's a simplicity and directness about Spirulina I like. I know what it is and where it comes from. It's one remarkable ingredient that provides complete protein and just about every vitamin you need. It's also quite efficient and sustainable to cultivate. Someday when the environmental apocalypse comes down, it may wind up supporting us all.
In fact, I seem to remember one of the Battlestar Galactica episodes their food supply gets corrupted and they have to hunt around for digestible food. Does my memory fail me or do they find pools of algae on a distant planet?
There you have it. Spirulina: the official food of the 12 colonies. What more endorsement do you need?