Amino acids are organic compounds containing an amino group (NH2), a carboxylic group (COOH) and any of various side chain groups. There are twenty amino acids encoded by the genetic code, referred to as the standard amino acids. The basic components of proteins, amino acids form short polymers (meaning a long molecule made up of a chain of smaller, simpler molecules) called peptides or longer polymers called polypeptides or proteins. Additionally, amino acids can function as chemical messengers and as intermediates in metabolism.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is native to Iran and was likely domesticated during the Bronze Age to feed horses arriving from Central Asia. It was later used in Greece around 490 B.C. as horse feed for the Persian army. The name alfalfa comes from the Arabian al-fac-facah, for “father of all foods”. A perennial herb, alfalfa was and is easy to grow, thriving in many varied climates throughout the world, and provides an excellent protein-rich food source for cattle, horses, sheep and other animals.