Ellsworth Students To Trade Bacon For Smoky, Delicious Seaweed?
There's two things I love in this world. Well, many actually, but I really do love bacon, and corn chowder. Put the two things together and I am happy as a pig in mud. I have my own recipe that I'm super fond of, and there are a few restaurants that really nail it.
But you can imagine my shock then when I read online that Ellsworth Elementary/Middle school was not going to be putting bacon in their corn chowder this coming Friday at lunch.
They're replacing the bacon with seaweed. Yup, you read that right.
It's a product from Hancock-based company, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables. They've provided the school with smoked dulse, a type of seaweed that is smoked and takes on a flavor that is alarmingly similar to bacon. I've tried it myself many times, and have used it at home to add a bacon-y flavor to things, but not add all the calories and fat that bacon can add.
I reached out to Seraphina Erhart of Maine Coast Sea Veg, who had this to say:
"Adding sea vegetables, due to their abundance of minerals and trace elements, to foods is a great way to reduce sodium content while keeping a salty flavor. Unlike land plants, sea veggies can dramatically increase the nutrition of any meal in a small package. In other words, a little goes a long way. For example, in the case of corn chowder, one can reduce or replace the bacon with dulse or smoked dulse, while keeping the yummy rich savory flavors, known as umami, and increasing the nutritional value of your meal."
They did some tastings with students in Ellsworth and kids were able to have a lot of input into the tasting process. They tried many different recipes and really took quite a liking to the corn chowder recipe that Maine Coast Sea Veg provided. The school changed it slightly, but catches the spirit of the original. You can scope the Maine Coast Sea Veg version for yourself here.
Maine Coast Sea Vegetables has been trying out some of their products in other schools in the area as well, and has been getting into college kitchens as well, such as College of the Atlantic, and the University of Maine.
To me, the real take away here is that kids can like seaweed. Even when they're told it's in the recipe. It seems worth it to get kids interested in healthy eating at a young age, where they could develop better eating habits that they can take into their adulthood. Who knows? Maybe it's seaweed today, and Brussels sprouts tomorrow?
Meh. Maybe just one thing at a time.