Who doesn’t love bacon? For bacon lovers out there (that’s you, me and everyone else!) here’s a bit of good news for you: there’s now seaweed that tastes like our favorite food. The researchers at the Oregon State University have patented this seaweed and they claim that when you cook it, it tastes just like bacon.
This new strain of seaweed, which is a type of red marine algae, can be mistaken for red lettuce except that it’s translucent. What’s even better is that it has twice the nutritional value of kale. So what you have here is basically healthy bacon! Isn’t that amazing? If you can’t live without bacon, maybe this seaweed will be a great alternative for you – you can eat it every day for as long as you want and you won’t have to worry about any ill effects on your health. Yep, we’re all for it.
Chris Langdon and his team of researchers at Oregon state began growing this new seaweed strain while aiming to find a good source of food for edible sea snails (abalone) which is very popular in Asia. Often, this strain grows in the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines.
But in the process of growing this seaweed, Langdon and his team found something really interesting. Langdon and his colleague Chuck Toombs discovered that the seaweed they were growing had a potential to become really big in Oregon.
Toombs set off to work with the Food Innovation Center at Oregon State which creates foods with seaweed as its primary ingredient. According to Langdon, no company in the United States grow read algae for human consumption but it’s been consumed by people for centuries throughout northern Europe.
Langdon says that if you fry the seaweed, it really tastes like bacon with a very convincing bacon flavor.
Currently, there are no analysis being done to discover whether this bacon-seaweed can be practical for commercialization but it seems to offer a lot of potential for the vegetarian and vegan markets (we think it has a potential in all markets, really!). The MBA students of professor Toombs are working on a marketing plan for this innovative line of specialty foods.
There are red algae available in US markets already but they are of a different strain from the bacon-tasting seaweed. Langdon grows as much as 30 lbs of this stuff weekly but he intends on increasing production in 3-folds.
A Little Bacon Trivia
For all of bacon lovers out there, why exactly do you (or we) love bacon? According to some survey, the average American eats close to 18 pounds of bacon in one year which is really a LOT of bacon. People love bacon so much that we’re not at all surprised when we hear stories of women receiving bacon roses on Valentine’s Day.
But there’s actually a scientific explanation for our love for bacon. According to an AsapScience video, when you heat bacon, the fats melt along with amino acids and sugar which produces a unique chemical reaction. When this reaction occurs, it releases around 150 volatile organic compounds present in bacon and it floats in the air to create a heavenly smell, which in turn, stimulates a mouthwatering response.
Unfortunately, while bacon is such a wonderful food, it also causes nasty effects to our health. To begin with, bacon packs a punch when it comes to calories – 18 lbs of bacon equals 44,000 calories. If these are excess calories, it would translate to close to 13 lbs of body fat. But even if you plan to burn all those calories in the gym, bacon still contains saturated fat which is very unhealthy and can lead to heart disease and stroke. When you cook bacon, its nitrites will react with the amino acids and become converted into a carcinogen known as nitrosamines. Health experts are quick to point out however that to be at risk of cancer (through bacon consumption) you’d have to eat a LOT of bacon. Nevertheless, it’s a risk most of us don’t want to take.
So why put your health at risk when there’s now a better and healthier alternative? Seaweed has long proven to be very healthy. It boosts the immune system to help fight off diseases from bacteria and viruses, and it’s also low in calorie so even if you’re trying to lose weight, eating this new strain of bacon-tasting seaweed won’t be a problem. Red algae also contain antioxidants which fight free radicals that cause damage to our cells.
We don’t know about you but we’re really looking forward to getting our hands on this newly discovered seaweed!