Boffins solve bacon crisis with newly-patented plant

Algae looks like cured pork, tastes like cured pork … you can't believe it's not Bacon!

Close up of dulse seaweed being grown and harvested at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport Oregon. Chris Langdon has been growing and studying it for decades and is now working with the Food Innovation Center in Portland on creating healthy and appealing dishes. . Photo by Stephen Ward, OSU Extension and Experiment Station Communications. https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/19664135662/

Months before the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared bacon a carcinogen, American boffins may have found a solution: algae that tastes just like bacon, but without the bad bits the Doctors at WHO say could cause your untimely demise.

The eukaryote in question is called Dulse (Palmaria sp.) and, as explained Oregon State University, is already in demand as a tasty addition to various recipes. Boffins at the University had been experimenting with a new strain of the plant designed to boost growth of abalone, a delicious and expensive shellfish. Results were good: abalone grew faster on a diet of modified Dulse than they did on other foodstuffs.

And then one of those things happened that is supposed to happen at Universities: folks from the business school met folks from Marine Science Center and asked if they were working on anything that might be a good project for students.

Thus did Dulse attain the status of a “specialty crop” at Oregon's Food Innovation Center. From that collaboration some of the algae, which apparently resembles “translucent red lettuce', found its way into a frying pan wielded by Chris Langdon, a professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at OSU.

“When you fry it, which I have done, it tastes like bacon, not seaweed. And it’s a pretty strong bacon flavor,” Langdon says.

Those among you who, on WHO's advice, have stopped eating bacon can't start planning a hangover in anticipation of a virtuously restorative fry-up because Dulce production isn't exactly happening in bulk. It's not hard to imagine that will change after WHO's bacon-killer: OSU announced its find in July and now has a potential market it could only dream of at the time. ®


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