Will This Be America’s Newest Food Obsession?

It’s nutritious — twice as good for you as kale. And it’s delicious. But will you eat it?

It’s nutritious — twice as good for you as kale. And it’s delicious, like bacon.

Oh, and it’s grown in America. Call it “bacon seaweed.”

Well, technically, it’s a red marine alga called “dulse” — it looks like translucent red lettuce — that grows wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and is harvested, dried and sold as a cooking ingredient or nutritional supplement.

But the new strain of the alga created and patented by researchers at Oregon State University reportedly tastes like bacon when cooked.

Dulse has been used as a sea “vegetable” for centuries in Ireland, Iceland and Scandinavia, according to an article in Oregon’s Agricultural Progress, an OSU research magazine.

Fisheries professor Chris Langdon, who crafted the super-food with colleagues at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, explains in a press release:

“In Europe, they add the powder to smoothies, or add flakes onto food. There hasn’t been a lot of interest in using it in a fresh form. But this stuff is pretty amazing. When you fry it, which I have done, it tastes like bacon, not seaweed. And it’s a pretty strong bacon flavor.”

The food is also an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, and it contains up to 16 percent protein in dry weight.

It grows rather quickly too. Langdon can grow 20 to 30 pounds of dulse a week in two large tanks and plans to beef up his production to 100 pounds a week.

He and his colleagues stumbled on the discovery of “bacon seaweed” while experimenting with food options for abalone, which are edible sea snails.

“The original goal was to create a super-food for abalone, because high-quality abalone is treasured, especially in Asia. … There always has been an interest in growing dulse for human consumption, but we originally focused on using dulse as a food for abalone.”

Are you excited about the prospect of this food making it to grocery store shelves near you? Share your thoughts below on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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