If you drive through Central Washington’s mint-growing country in mid-summer, you’re likely to be overwhelmed by the scent of mint rising like an exhalation—at once delightful and inescapable—from the surrounding fields. In fact, your senses might deceive you into believing that not much has changed in the last 30 years or so. But during that time Rod Croteau, professor at the Institute for Biological Chemistry at Washington State University, has been doing research that has helped make Washington mint plants produce more and better peppermint.
Peppermint plants produce menthol, which is a terpene, as are all the other compounds Croteau researches. Terpenes are chemicals put … » More …