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Brief Published: 21 Jul 2015

Seaweed Bacon

Dulse Seaweed

Scientists from Oregon State University in the US have patented a nutrient-dense strain of red marine algae called dulse, which tastes remarkably like bacon when fried and contains 16% protein even when cooked. Dulse resembles a translucent red lettuce and is typically difficult to grow. However, this new strain is easily harvested.

According to a study by the California Academy of Sciences, the global population is expected to hit 9 billion by 2050. With this in mind, scientists are researching new ways to maximise abundant food sources, such as seaweed, and create new-format proteins that don't rely on cattle, livestock or fish supplies.

"We're seeing a fascinating array of sustainable food substitutes that could provide viable and tasty alternatives to diminishing foodstuffs," said Mandy Saven, head of Food, Beverage & Hospitality at Stylus. "If these can deliver on flavour and nutritional value as well as texture, I think they will become more widely accepted by food-savvy consumers. However, nobody will want an inferior offering."

Looking to other tasty food substitutes, American chef James Corwell has invented a sustainable tomato-based sushi that tastes like tuna, while Stanford University scientist Patrick Brown has created a vegetarian burger that 'bleeds' juices just like real meat, as discussed in Reframing Rare.

For more on brands creating healthy and sustainable meat alternatives, see Future Food Opportunities and Food Vision 2014. For more ingredient and production tweaks, see Expired Fruit Becomes Edible Powder and Scientists Develop Sustainable Bean.