A few years after receiving his PhD in Molecular Biology from Rockefeller University NYC, Alan Kapuler embraced counterculture and moved to a commune in southern Oregon. It was there (in the early 1970’s), hoping to help provide for the group, that Alan first began to garden and sell seeds. “We didn’t know anything about business, we didn’t know anything about saving seeds, and we knew nothing about gardening,” he recalls.
Many things have changed for Alan since then, including the fact that he is now widely considered to be an expert in the field of plant breeding. Alan has spent the last 40 years collecting unique seeds, researching amino acid contents in tomatoes, and breeding nutritionally diverse varieties, all in the name of promoting better health. Kapuler collaborated with Dr. Sarangamat Gurusiddiah PhD (the chief of the Biochemistry Lab of Washington State U) conducting hundreds of analyses for free amino acids in organically grown flowers, fruits and vegetables.
In 1975 Alan Kapuler, his wife Linda, and their friend Alan Venet founded what would later be called Peace Seeds. Although they didn’t have much money to spare in the early days, Alan and his wife Linda recognized the importance of preserving heirloom seeds. In 1981, they invested $100 to become Seed Savers Exchange lifetime members. Their seed catalogs have always focused on a wide variety of open-pollinated seeds including include rare heirloom varieties along with Peace Seeds originals.
Alan first started breeding ‘Rainbow Inca’ sweet corn when he realized the health potential in breeding multi-colored vegetables. “I knew that the yellow (in the corn kernels) was zeaxanthin or lutein, which were two Carotenoid pigments that go to protect our eyes from photo-damage as we get older… [and] that purple color is anthocyanin-3 glucoside—that’s a free radical trap, so if you eat that corn it improves your health!”