Dr. Kaplan Tingo – Professor of Biology

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Written by: Farhad Taraporevala

Every day at 5 p.m., people line up outside my laboratory in Iowa City, Iowa to receive free, fresh produce. I started this project in my second year of teaching at the University of Iowa after noticing my lab assistants’ poor eating habits. I saw that everyone in my lab was living, if you could even call it that, on a diet of red meat and potatoes. I decided to make eating fruits and vegetables interesting for the people of Iowa, and hopefully introduce a healthier diet to those who work around me.

In a bid to make healthier eating fun, I started to genetically modify common foods, the first being a cucumber. I needed a fun way to get people to eat my new cucumbers, so I swapped a couple nucleotides, making my cucumbers rainbow-colored with ten times the typical amount of vitamin K. Children responded well to my new creation, which I distributed free of charge to school districts throughout the state. However, due to some political backlash, I was forced to change the colors of the cucumbers to solely red, white, and blue.

The cucumber was just the beginning of my experiments; each new produce creation enhanced the natural vitamins and made the food more palatable. My most popular creation, ‘Psychedelic Snap Peas,’ causes one to see beautiful colors and shapes for five minutes after consuming them. I came up with the idea when reminiscing about my college days. One day, my friends and I went to a very special restaurant where I tried some rare mushrooms. The mushrooms had such a life-changing effect on me that I knew I had to recreate them for the people of Iowa. Unfortunately, the cops frowned upon me importing large amounts of mushrooms from California, so I had to create these snap peas instead.

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