Carrots

I’ve never had much luck growing carrots.  They take a long time to germinate, and it can be hard to keep the weeds out while waiting on them to emerge.  They need soft rock-free soil to grow best, and that kind of dirt is hard to find around here.    But this year we managed to coax a few into existence for the benefit of our CSA.  Carrots are great veggies and we’ll keep trying.  Maybe someday we’ll be carrot-growing experts.

Most foods come with interesting histories.  Many years ago while stuck in the Seoul airport for close to a day and needing a way to pass the time I bought a history of food written by Mageulonne Touissaint-Samat and translated by Anthea Bell.  It’s a whopper of a book that only a history nerd could love, but it piqued my interest in food history.  That I would buy an English translation of a French book in a Korean airport is just further evidence, I suppose, of a flat world.  I go to it occasionally for interesting food facts and whatever history I can’t find there is readily available on the internet or our shelf full of books about gardening, farming and homesteading.

Mme Touissant-Samat surprisingly has nothing to say about carrots, but they are an interesting vegetable.  They’re very good for you, but they won’t improve your eyesight.  Here’s the carrot trivia I sent to our CSA members recently:

Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, a single carrot having almost 200% of the daily recommended allowance.

Carrots are in the parsley family (which is evident if you see the greens) and have more natural sugar than any vegetable other than beets.
 
Although carrots are loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals, it is not true that eating carrots improves eyesight.  During WWII the British government circulated a rumor that British gunners had developed the ability to see in the dark from eating lots of carrots, enabling them to shoot down German aircraft at night.  This story was created to conceal the existence of airborne interception radar the British were using.  The British public believed the stories and began eating lots of carrots to improve their night vision.  I’m not sure if the Germans bought it or not. 
 
Eating carrots is good for your health but won’t really improve your vision.  Eating too many of them will, however, cause your skin to turn orange, thanks to the high concentration of beta carotene in carrots.  But you’d have to eat an awful lot of them for that to happen.
 
Carrots are difficult to grow because they take a long time to germinate (allowing weeds to take over before they emerge) and because they need fine, rock-free soil to grow in.
 
Real carrots, as y’all have seen, don’t look like the fake baby carrots sold in grocery stores.  Those aren’t actually baby carrots, but rather are large carrots that have been whittled down by a machine. 
 
Over a third of all the carrots produced in the world are grown in China.  Even though the U.S. is a net exporter of carrots, we import almost 100,00 metric tons and depending upon the time of year there is a good chance that carrots in food you buy in the U.S. came from China.
 
We cut the greens off our carrots, because the greens are usually not eaten and supposedly will draw nutrients from the carrots if left attached.  But there are plenty of folks who say carrot greens are good to eat and should not be removed.  I’m thinking of leaving the greens on next year and would be interested in hearing from any of y’all who have an opinion on that.
 
I should have added that rabbits (and deer) enjoy eating the above-ground greens, but I can’t imagine a rabbit eating a carrot itself (which is the root of the plant), Bugs Bunny nothwithstanding.

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