Algal eating habits of phycologists attending the ISAP Halifax Conference and members of the general public
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A short questionnaire was devised during the 4th ISAP Conference in Halifax (2011) to gather some information on the algal eating habits of the participants. Responses were also collected from random members of the general public in Galway and Copenhagen. Most phycologists had eaten algae before (93%), but few conference participants ate it more regularly than per month. Responses of the general public were similar. A probability model tested the likelihood of a participant eating algae. Neither age nor nationality significantly influenced this probability, although gender increased the probability of eating algae regularly by 9% if the participant was male (at the 90% confidence limit). As hypothesised, being a conference attendee highly significantly increased the probability of eating algae by 22%, in comparison with non-conference attendees (i.e. the general public). The type of phycological research studied also had a significant effect. Researchers working with macroalgae were 22% more likely to eat algae, whereas microalgal researchers were 15% less likely to eat algae on a monthly or more regular basis. The main reasons for eating algae by both groups were ‘taste’, followed by ‘other’ (undefined) reasons, whereas the main reason for not eating algae in both groups was a ‘lack of availability’. Phycologists also ate algae for the perceived ‘health benefits’ (36%), whereas few members of the general public chose this option (13%). Consumption of red seaweeds was most popular (60% of phycologists and 71% of the general public), with Porphyra spp. most commonly preferred. In total, 27 genera of macroalgae and microalgae were recorded as eaten by questionnaire participants.
KeywordsAlgae Macroalgae Microalgae Questionnaire Porphyra ISAP Diet
The authors would like to thank all who participated in the questionnaire and to acknowledge the organisers of the Halifax Conference, Alan Critchley, Stephen O’Leary and their team for their support. Additional thanks to Jessica Ratcliff for moral support and braving the Galway public and for the helpful suggestions from the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript.
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