While I am out in the woods for a few days living on trail mix and granola bars I thought I would share a few of my past articles with you! Pray the tent doesn’t leak and the bugs don’t find me!
Think About This Thursday
What color are carrots? Simple enough question, right? You, like most of the world, would answer ‘Orange’. And yes, in today’s society you would be right 99% of the time. But,the first carrots were white, purple, red, yellow, green and black. Think about this: there were originally NO orange carrots! So, what happened? How did we go from the thin, tough multicolored root that originated 5000 years ago in Afghanistan to the plump, 8 inch long bright orange veggies we see in the grocery store?
Carrots were carried via trade routes from Egypt (where purple carrots were apparently popular) to Greece and Rome (where they were thought to be an aphrodisiac!) In the 13th century, early Europeans began cultivating carrots and they were popular as a medicinal treatment for everything from animal bites to syphilis. By the 16th century they were common across England and France (red, purple and yellow varieties…still no orange ones!).
Then, one day, the Dutch cross-bred the yellow and red carrot to produce a variety that would represent the House of Orange. Who would have thought that POLITICS could decide the color of our vegetables? The Carrot Museum reports that the carrot was introduced to America in 1609. (Am I the only one that is amazed to hear that there is a carrot museum?) It was then purposely cultivated to improve the flavor, texture, and nutritional value and the result is the fat, juicy, orange variety that is common today.
The carrot is the second most popular vegetable in the world after the potato. Several hundred varieties of carrot exist with over 50 different seeds available for planting. The ‘non traditional’ colors are finally starting to find their way back into farmer’s markets and health food stores. After four centuries of orange varieties, a cream colored carrot is beginning to appear in British shops. Purple carrots, which were almost completely lost in the shadows of it’s orange relative, are finally starting to make a comeback.
However, our obsession with the perfect, unblemished, orange carrot has had it’s own consequences. Heirloom varieties are disappearing at an alarming rate. My research turned up a very recent disappearance: the ‘Early Scarlet Horn’ carrots (three to four inch long, one and three-quarters inches in diameter,and mild flavored) has recently been dropped from the heirloom seed directory because no sources can be found. How many other varieties will we lose, all because of our insistence that a carrot much be 8 inches long, skinny, and orange?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.
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