By Elizabeth Palermo
Bacon-flavored seaweed is the new kale. Yes, really.
Scientists are currently cultivating a marine plant that’s packed with more nutrients than the trendy green superfood kale. And it naturally tastes like bacon.
Bacon-flavored crackers. Bacon-flavored salad dressing. These are just two of the savory treats that have been created so far using the domesticated strain of dulse (Palmaria palmata), a kind of red algae, or seaweed, that typically grows in the waters along northern Pacific and Atlantic coastlines.
Dulse is usually harvested in the wild, dried out and then sold for up to $90 a pound, according to researchers at the Oregon State University (OSU) Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, who developed the domesticated strain of the plant.
The OSU researchers are working on making dulse more affordable and more widely available. Their strain of the lettucelike marine plant can be cultivated using hydroponic farming methods in which the plants are grown in water, without any soil. These methods make dulse much easier to grow and harvest, and therefore more affordable. The researchers are currently producing about 20 to 30 lbs. (9 to 14 kilograms) of this fast-growing plant each week in two large, water-filled tanks at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
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