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The Free Amino Acids that Build Proteins as a Prime Nutritional Basis for Selecting Improved Food Plant Cultivars
The Six Papers of A. M. Kapuler Ph.D. and S. Gurusiddiah Ph.D. (61 pages) collated from Peace Seeds Journals 1988-1997 in 2004 and reprinted in 2011.
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A New Introduction by Al Kapuler
We began growing and collecting seeds for heirloom vegetables in the 1970’s. By the 1980’s, it became clear that we needed effective criteria for the selection of cultivars. There are many useful characteristics such as vigor, productivity, flavor, and success in our local ecosystem, to use as bases for selection. Among the many possibilities, the nutritional content is of prime importance. However, which nutritional aspects are of the most general significance for maintaining and improving our health was a conundrum worth scrutinizing.
The basis for making proteins is common to all cells and hence all organisms (viruses use and depend on cells). From the microbes, bacteria and archaea, to fungi, plants and animals including us, the polymerizing of a set of 20 amino acids into thousands of kinds of proteins, usually hundreds or more amino acids in length, is a universal biological, biochemical and physiological reality.
The common feature of making proteins from amino acids is that the amino acids are specified by the Genetic Code as DNA nucleotide sequences. These are transcribed into messenger RNAs and then translated on ribosomes into proteins. Hence what is essential to the health and wellbeing of our cells, organs and bodies is the ability to synthesize proteins and to recycle them into their components: free amino acids.
We eat proteins to digest them into free amino acids so our cells can build the proteins they need from them. So why not develop a food system that relies on the free amino acids that build proteins rather than the proteins themselves? We have taken some steps in the development of this notion.
Preliminary studies, using thin layer chromatography of juices from tomatoes, salad plants, squashes and rootcrops established that indeed, free amino acids were in all of the fresh juices. We observed a common feature of our garden food plants, the presence of free amino acids in diversity and abundance, in their juices.
Thanks to Dave (Munk) Bergen introducing us to S. Gurusiddiah, at that time the head of the Bioanalytical Laboratory, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, we began a collaboration which lasted many years. This allowed us to grow myriad crops under organic conditions and to analyze their juices for free amino acids using HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography).
The results of hundreds of analyses are presented in six papers. This work has been done and is presented for the wellbeing of humanity and in the public domain as a common resource for improving our lives.