Onions from left to right: Athos F1 Hybrid, Schneider's Red Heirloom, Kelsae Heirloom, Red Milan OP, Burgos F1 Hybrid.
Insights over Catsup and French Fries As found in 30 Years Later, a Peace Seeds retrospective “Mushroom ( aka Alan M. Kapuler, Ph.D) continues to explore directions for nutritional selection based on the free amino acids that are used by our cells to make proteins. He came to this cross section of reality and the road. Many times, as a vegetarian on the move he’d stop in at any one of innumerable cafés for a plate of French fried potatoes. On one particular occasion, looking intently at the potatoes while lavishly pouring catsup on them, he thought the food value in these fried potatoes is nil so it must be in the sauce. After growing 120 varieties of tomatoes one year, I wanted and needed nutritional selection criteria to help me choose the best beyond the usual visible traits. At the core of nutrition is protein synthesis based on certain free amino acids, the ones that are used to build proteins. So I took a drop of juice from a dozen and spotted a bit at the bottom of a plate coated with white, clean, absorbent silicon dioxide, dried the spots and then chromatographed the spots by putting the edge of the glass plate into a pool of rubbing alcohol. As the solvent rises up the plate, the drops of juice are partitioned between the alcohol, which has some water in it and the absorbent silicon dioxide, which binds water preferentially over alcohol to distribute molecules, particularly free amino acids between them, thus separating various kinds. After the solvent has migrated 10-15 cm, the plate is dried. Then it is sprayed with ninhydrin, baked and read. Free amino acids make purple spots. Proline is yellow. Asparagine is reddish purple. There were 10-15 analyses on a sheet of 6 x 9 window glass. And the tomatoes were loaded with free amino acids and there were characteristic differences between the different cultivars, answers to the issue of nutritional selection criteria. Years later Dave Bergen learned of my interest in high performance liquid chromatography analysis of the juices of many different aspects of plants for free amino acids, particularly focusing on free amino acids that make proteins. He discussed this interest with Dr. Sarangamat Gurusiddiah, then Head of the Washington State University (Pullman) Bioanalytic Laboratory who volunteered to collaborate to provide this information as part of the public domain of humanity, to be shared by all and owned by none. So for years, with my collaborators Carl Jones, Jennifer Petersen, Linda Kapuler, Hope Shepherd, we grew the fruits, leaves, roots and flowers and squeezed the juices, then sending them to the “Guru” to do the analyses. I am very grateful for this collaboration, helping a dream come true. Free amino acid nutrition is a fundamental nutritional level of healthy human diets.