Art by Tom Swanson

Speaking with Mushroom: An Interview With Dr Alan Kapuler, Part 1

“How many genes in that tree are the same that are in our bodies,” Mushroom asked me.  We were looking at a kumquat tree in a warm greenhouse on a cold and rainy Oregon day in October, 2014.

“No idea,” I answered.

“So we have 22,000 genes, human beings.  22,000 single copy genes.  So here it is: We’ve got 22,000 and the plant has about 20,000.  Common inheritance:  Something like three to five hundred genes are the same in that plant that are in our bodies.  That’s what I’m interested in.  What goes on in the existing realm that makes it worthwhile to serve humanity and become a public domain plant breeder is that we need to improve the food system.  The food system right now is giving more disease than it’s giving health”.  That’s the edited version of 2.5 minutes with Dr. Alan Kapuler.

‘Be careful what you wish for’, I thought, when I considered asking Dr. Kapuler for an interview.  Dr. Kapuler’s an incredibly smart man and he talks fast, so he’s downloading tons when he speaks; I wasn’t sure how I’d edit the talk without losing something vital.  Most importantly though, the things he says are of real consequence to the global community.  The first time I heard him, I wondered why the world at large wasn’t getting his information; look into the state of our food system and you’ll find that we should be listening to him. For the last 40 or so years, he’s busied himself with a lot more than talking though:  Mushroom, as he’s known by friends, was a co-founder of Seeds of Change organic seed company, the largest company of it’s type in the US, where he worked as research director.  He and his wife Linda also founded Peace Seeds, a company which they still operate.  His life’s work has been to focus on the global food system.  His daughter Dylana and her partner Mario have their own public domain seed company called Peace Seedlings.  This is true grass-roots work with potent implications for our future (in my opinion).

That’s a start.  Thanks for checking it.  And look for part 2 in the next few weeks.

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