Oak forests can be transformed into valuable food production centres for gluten-free flour and alternative protein sources
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Spotted: Dubbed “a historic Mediterranean superfood” by Portugese foodtech company Landratech, acorns are an often-overlooked resource for food, leather tanning, baking, and textile dyeing.
Landratech points out that in 2018, the European Union (EU) imported 102,000 tonnes of gluten-free cereal grains, pulses, and oilseeds. Cereal crops produce around 200 kilogrammes of CO2 equivalent per tonne, but the environmental footprint of acorns is significantly lower because of the carbon sequestration capability of oak forests and the fact that many European countries have the climate to support their own oak trees – meaning they wouldn’t need to rely on emissions-intensive overseas imports.
The company provides landowners with a range of tools to maximise the income they earn from their forests, and supports the growth of this new market by buying acorns from growers to provide agri-food producers with relevant raw materials. It also supports B2B connections between growers, producers, and distributors.
The acorn itself is useable in many ways, with the cap providing essential tannins for the leather industry. The kernel is high in antioxidants, as well as being gluten-free, which makes it a highly nutritious alternative to traditional cereals and grains used for flour and other foodstuffs. The shell of the nut, meanwhile, has useful antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities and also provides tannins for textile dyes and for tanning leathers. The Landratech platform creates a supply chain with full transparency for acorn products that encompass: flour; coffee; granulate for new, more sustainable food products; and more. The company also works to publicise the healthfulness and usefulness of a nut with a particularly low public profile.
Landratech currently runs four projects dedicated to creating a digital marketplace for acorn products and supporting research and development on the healthfulness of the nut as a pillar of a sustainable diet.
Nuts are particularly valuable elements of many communities’ diets, and in the archive, Springwise has spotted examples of them being used for lifestyle improvements that include the at-home production of plant-based milk and as a sustainable replacement for palm oil.
Written By: Keely Khoury