Bacon is undoubtedly king among comestibles. Its supreme versatility allows for it to pair with eggs for breakfast, squeeze between lettuce and tomato for lunch, sit atop a juicy burger for dinner, and even get bathed in ice cream for dessert. It can be crushed, sprinkled, sliced, fried, dipped, layered, cheesed and even caramelized. It's the edible emperor.
Except, it's not that good for you.
Oregon State University may have the perfect solution, though.
Dulse is the rather bland name for the red, translucent algae that has emerged from the sea to be our new champion of cuisine. Potentially. Researchers at OSU recently patented a new strain of red algae that has quite an interesting quality when cooked -- it tastes like bacon. Even more, it's really good for you.
I speak for all bacon-lovers across the country when I stress the need to Americanize this plant as soon as possible. That is, we need to commercialize dulse until Taco Bell becomes a leader in seaweed extraction and invents the "Double Dulse Chalupa." Our hearts are literally counting on it.
Every year, more than 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States. There's much scary rhetoric over the Islamic State terrorist group, drunken driving and domestic terrorism, yet it's bacon that should be making us sweat.
As painful as it may be to hear, it is well-known that consuming too much processed meats like sausage, deli meat and bacon significantly increases the risk of heart problems. Our country hearts bacon, but bacon hurts our hearts.
On the other hand, once kale escaped from the greater foodie environs of Brooklyn it became a nutritional juggernaut packed with fiber, potassium and much more to support our hearts. As far as health benefits go, kale beats even spinach. But OSU said dulse has twice the nutritional value as kale.
This news may be getting too good to be true, but there's more.
A seafood economist at OSU thinks dulse has all the characteristics of commercialization.
"That fact that it grows rapidly, has high nutritional value, and can be used dried or fresh certainly makes it a strong candidate," said Gil Sylvia, director of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center.
The OSU research team said that currently there are no commercial operations growing dulse for consumption in the United States. You can find some red algae in markets now, but it is not the yummy bacon kind.
Dear bacon, you will never be forgotten, but there's a chance here for the rare opportunity of enjoying a bacon-flavored, heart-healthy food. Dear OSU, share your strain with the rest of us so that the capitalist machine might power it to level of ubiquity that bacon has now. Now, the only thing left to do is find a more palatable name than "dulse."
Christopher Leelum, a student at Stony Brook University, is an intern with Newsday and amNewYork.