Your breakfasts with bacon will now be full of doubt as there is an engineered bacon that is not really made with pork but with seaweed.
A patent has been filed by Oregon State University researchers of a new strain of red marine algae called dulse. It looks like a translucent red lettuce. It can be found along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, usually harvested and solve for up to $90 a pound in dried form. Before it was made for bacon, it is used as a cooking ingredient and nutritional supplement.
The bacon impostor is packed with protein at 16% by weight and mineral and vitamins such as vitamin A and C. It has twice the nutritional value of kale.
Discovering this seaweed started when Oregon State fisheries professor Chris Langdon grew the new strain while trying to find a good food source for edible sea snails or abalone.
“The original goal was to create a super-food for abalone, because high-quality abalone is treasured, especially in Asia,” Langdon says.
Little did he know that he was breeding the healthier type of bacon until OSU business professor Chuck Toombs went to his Hatfield Marine Science Center office. His colleague said he thought the bacon-seaweed had “the potential for a new industry for Oregon.”
To explore its potential as a food, Toombs took to the university’s Food Innovation Center wherein seaweed was already used to create a range of foods, except red algae.
Langdon claims that this is the first time that red algae were grown in the U.S for the people to consume. There are red algae sold in the market, but not the strain he is harvesting.
But he recognizes that this is no longer new in northern Europe where the seaweed has been consumed by the people for centuries. It is an ancient snack in Ireland.
The red algae only taste like bacon once it is fried. Landon shares, “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.”
For this, Langdon is planting about 20 to 30 pounds of this red algae in a week, and is planning to more than triple the production.
He has teamed up with Toombs in their aim to commercialize the product. Landon tells, “We now have about five products that we think will be very good commercial products.
“This stuff grows, under the right conditions, five times as fast as anything else,” he added.
Somewhere out there, the vegans and vegetarians are rejoicing over this discovery.