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Seaweed is a form of algae, but it's edible. The seaweed with a patent tastes like bacon!

ERIC NORBERG - In this screenshot from the May 4 Zoom online meeting of the Southeast Portland Rotary Club, Sellwood resident and OSU Professor Chuck Toombs discussed an amazing natural product developed and patented by the University - a palatable, edible seaweed hybrid called dulse. A Sellwood resident – when he is not teaching at the Oregon State University College of Business – is also building a business of his own with a particular hybrid of seaweed, bred and patented by Oregon State, at its Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. In what turns out to be the second-most-widely-reported press release from OSU ever, it was announced in July of 2015 that, "Oregon State University researchers have patented a new strain of a succulent red marine algae called 'dulse' that grows extraordinarily quickly, is packed full of protein, and has an unusual trait when it is fried: This seaweed tastes like bacon. Dulse (Palmaria sp.) grows in the wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines."

Speaking via the Zoom videoconferencing application to a Monday noon meeting of Southeast Portland Rotary on May 4, Chuck Toombs – who lives near the Willamette River, on S.E. Marion Street – revealed that although the University had obtained the patent before he joined its College of Business, it was his idea to let the world know about "dulse" through that press release.

And, being quite entrepreneurial, he went on to discover that this seaweed yields 20% protein, grows 7.5% per day, and consumes a pound of carbon dioxide per five pounds of growth – which suggests that it could play a significant role not only in feeding a growing world population, but also in reducing global warming. "Growing 13 square miles of the seaweed on a salt-water aquiculture farm in the Eastern Oregon desert could make Oregon carbon-neutral all by itself!" he exclaimed.

So, he licensed the seaweed from Oregon State, and is growing it at Bandon. And, as if finding a palatable seaweed that grows fast and consumes carbon dioxide is not enough, Toombs pointed out that it appears that a product made from the stuff could be used inexpensively to profile the ability of a restaurant's ventilation system to dissipate viruses in the air, and to assign each restaurant a score of safety, on which "100%" would be the best. As we recover from the COVID-19 crisis, the usefulness of such a service is obvious, both to consumers and to restaurants – though that test result would be applicable to any virus-caused disease that might be circulating at any time. He promised to give progress reports on the commercial development of all these attributes of "dulse", in return talks to the Rotary Club. The Southeast Portland Rotary Club weekly lunch meetings are on Wednesday noon in the community room of Moreland Presbyterian Church, at S.E. 19th and Bybee Boulevard, are always open to the public, and usually feature an interesting guest speaker. However, until public meetings are again allowed, the club meets Wednesday noons online via Zoom, and anyone interested in "attending" is invited to request a link to the meeting by e-mailing to – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. More information on the club can be found online – http://www.SoutheastPortlandRotary.com


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