Leaves, wastes, residues for the first protein supplement


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How the first protein supplement was manufactured

To manufacture their protein supplement for general distribution, INCAP licensed private companies under strict quality and price controls. But to allow reasonable profits to the producers and retailers, the little plastic bags containing enough protein supplement for three atoles (the nutritional equivalent of three glasses of milk) should be sold at that time at about four pence a bag. While far cheaper than milk, this remained too expensive for the average peasant family. It had been suggested, however, that with a subsidized plant and equipment, a non-profit organization could produce the protein supplement for as little as one penny a bag.

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Added together, all the protein-rich foods that could be made from the residues of cotton-seed, peanuts, coconuts, soya beans and other crops might satisfy one-third of the world's protein needs. In addition, scientists suggested more imaginative ways of increasing the supply.

What is food to one, is to others bitter poison.
(Titus Lucretius Carus)

In England, Dr. N.W. Pirie pioneered in making protein supplement from leaves, and from such industrial by-products as the waste normally discarded while quick-freezing green peas. Extracts from these materials were dried into a powder added to sauces or biscuits.

Scientists thought of even more sources for their protein supplement, like planned cultivation of fish that can be milled into an edible "flour", then preserved and shipped to areas where it was needed. Nutritionists also considered plankton and other lower forms of aquatic life like seaweed and other algae.

Finally, advances in the synthetic production of the amino acids themselves made possible that the common grains -rice, wheat, corn- become as valuable in the protein content as steak. A small supplement of the missing amino acids enormously increases the grain's protein value - a fact long appreciated by American farmers who have been giving chickens such supplements in their feed, since they became available commercially around 1950.

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