Tasting chlorophyll

Ross Koning Koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Thu Feb 22 11:51:34 EST 1996


I understand the concerns expressed about students
tasting unknown leaves.  Indeed many leaves contain
toxins, and plants grown in greenhouses are usually
laced with pesticides.  On the other hand I don't
have any qualms about students tasting various "greens"
from the grocery store (appropriately washed cabbage,
lettuce, celery, etc).

I have no idea how you would decide if you were tasting
chlorophyll or not.  For an experiment you might think
of tasting the inner leaves vs the outer leaves of a head
of lettuce.  But a green leaf has much more biochemistry
than a yellow leaf, and the flavors you might observe
would more likely be secondary metabolism than simply
the presence of chlorophyll.

Purified chlorophyll would be the way to go, but getting
chlorophyll purified is no easy task.  Moreover any traces
of extraction/purification chemicals could be carcinogenic
or worse.  I'd love to hear other people's ideas on this,
but I think a decent experiment (only the one chlorophyll
variable between control and experimental) can *not* be done
in a typical classroom setting.

Do I think chlorophyll is tasteable?  Looking at the chromophore,
its structure provides a richness of complexity that might bind
at receptors on the human toungue, at least in some sub-optimal
fashion.  That however is just a guess...a hypothesis...to be
tested...now how to do it?

ross

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 \ Ross Koning                                  \
  \ Biology Department                           \
   \ Eastern CT State University                  \
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     \ Koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu                     \
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