The magical red onion

During the early 2020 quarantine period, I was able to reinvigorate my (semi-)hidden passion for cooking! I soon realized the true versatility and utility of one of my favorite ingredients, the red onion, for which I have a newfound appreciation. One of my more distinct memories from childhood was how much I hated onions. Raw or cooked, red, yellow or white, I would painstakingly pick out each piece of onion that my mother insisted that she cook into my food. 

When tasked with this lab assignment, I was immediately excited to be able to use my homemade foldscope to investigate my favorite root vegetable. I was able to get some really great pictures of the onion and was quite impressed with how clear the images came out, and how bright the coloring is. I didn’t have any yellow onions at hand, but I am really curious to know what the primary structural differences are between the two, if any. How do the cells of store-bought onions differ from those of wild, non-domesticated onions, if at all? Also, I am more generally interested in the relationship between the ways that foods are marketed and the “actual” nutritional/taste quality of the food. So I wonder, would an onion from a more premier, organically marketed grocery store have a visibly different structure from an onion from a “lower quality” grocery store? What if I grew my own?

I conducted this project as part of Professor Pringle’s EEB321 class at Princeton University

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