When Potatoes Are Blue



Scientists are learning that the colors of vegetables perform a variety of protective duties in the human body.

A good cook once told me the same thing as her colorful stir fry sizzled in the pan and my mouth watered.

According to Philipp Simon, a researcher with the US department of agriculture, in an article by Erin K. Peabody, the colored pigments of particular vegetables shield the plant's cells during photosynthesis.

Simon has been working for 20 years to breed carrots of a different color by emphasizing their natural pigments.

  • Ordinary orange carrots are a source of vitamin A.
  • Lycopene is the source of color in red carrots and is believed to guard against heart disease.
  • Purple carrots are antioxidant.
  • Yellow carrots have a type of carotene that is good for eye health.

(And I always thought "carats" provided nominal sunburn protection on the fingers of one's hand.)

Humans often feast with our eyes, so when food doesn't taste like what it appears to be, I think it is nice to have a heads up.

On a plate, sliced beets look a bit like a slice of canned jellied cranberry sauce. The resemblance ends when you put one in your mouth expecting the other.

I think that Simon's purple carrot juice would look quite the opposite of antioxidant.

Note to scientists: don't bother trying to make brussels sprouts better.

A box of "Pearsnapples" straight from the Harry and David catalog thankfully has both has pears ‘n apples in it, but there are a number of companies doing what farmers have done for years -- breeding vegetables and fruit for the best color and taste. SunFresh is marketing a lower calorie low-carb potato this year, and three years ago Kiwi Korners started cultivating a smaller Asian kiwi fruit that they describe as "cotton candy with a refined finish."

Lemon, I've heard was the original citrus dating back to 940 AD in China. Orange, grapefruit and lime trees were bred from lemon trees and the branches of one type of citrus can be grafted onto another type of citrus.

"Nectaplums" were for sale in a local store last summer. The cross between a plum and a nectarine is the creation of Zaiger's Genetics out of California. The inventor, Floyd Zaiger, is working on a "Peacotum," peach + apricot + plum, which he hopes to release to the public's taste buds in 2008.

Sorry, Mr. Zaiger, I can take or leave plums and I like my nectarines just the way they are so I didn't try your hybrid fruit but my daughter and her friends did and they pronounced it "sweet."

When I found "Grapples" (pronounced graypulls), with the help of Joe Vlahovich, the very nice produce manager at Bashas', I decided to try them.

(Isn't that what our mothers tell us? ‘At least try it. You might like it.')

A Grapple is a Fuji apple soaked in a patented grape-flavored solution.

It smells like a sweet grape and has a tang to go with the apple flavor, in my opinion.

I'll probably buy Grapples again. After all, I considered planting purple skinned, blue fleshed organic potatoes in my garden.

Hmm... how would dinner guests grapple with blue mashed potatoes?

"Thanks, I'll pass on the gravy."

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