Why can’t healthy stuff taste good? Every person trying to lose weight knows the struggle. We know the apple is pretty good, but nothing beats our favorite snack.

Researchers from Oregon State University are about to blow your mind. They have patented a new strain of red marine algae called dulse. It can grow quick and is stuffed with protein. But, it’s what it tastes like when cooked that could turn us all into seaweed converts.

Bacon! At least, that’s what the researchers claim. There will be plenty of bacon lovers who will challenge them on this one.

fried bacon

But c’mon, healthy and tastes like everyone’s favorite meat? How can you not get excited?

Dulse grows in the wild along both America coastlines, but OSU’s Chris Langdon and his colleagues at the Hatfield Marine Science Center cooked up a new strain.

“The original goal was to create a super-food for abalone, because high-quality abalone is treasured, especially in Asia,” Langdon pointed out. “We were able to grow dulse-fed abalone at rates that exceeded those previously reported in the literature. There always has been an interest in growing dulse for human consumption, but we originally focused on using dulse as a food for abalone.”

Langdon says dulse is popular in northern Europe, where people use it in smoothies or flakes to add to food.

“There hasn’t been a lot of interest in using it in a fresh form,” Langdon said. “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.”

Tastes like bacon and has twice the nutritional value of kale? I’ll take a couple pounds, please.

Langdon and his colleagues have received a grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture to explore dulse as a “special crop,” a first for seaweed. They have also teamed up with the university’s Food Innovation Center in Portland and several local chefs to test dulse recipes.

Gia Sylvia, director of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and a seafood economist, touched on dulse’s strengths as a commercial product.

“The fact that it grows rapidly, has high nutritional value, and can be used dried or fresh certainly makes it a strong candidate,” Sylvia said.

Exactly how fast does it grow? Langdon can pump out 20-30 pounds a week and plans to increase it to 100 pounds a week.

If Langdon can back up his bacon tasting claim, we might all be eating some dulse soon.


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