International Carrot Day returns on 4th April – be it as a side on Sunday lunchtime or as the basis of your next cake bake, carrots are so much more than a healthy addition to your diet!
Wild carrots originated in Central Asia around 900 AD, and were purple and yellow – only after six centuries of domestication did orange carrots start to consistently be grown across the globe; with the first evidence of carrots being domestically cultivated coming from the Iranian Plateau and Persia in the tenth century. During Arab expansion into Europe during the tenth century, carrots were introduced into Arab held Andalusia, which is now Spain, from where carrot cultivation spread to the rest of Europe.
Carrots are probably most famous for their role in Britain during the Second World War – propaganda images such as Dr. Carrot and showing carrots as one of the ‘Homeguards of Health’ were all part of the government’s strategy to make Britain self-sufficient in regards to food that couldn’t be as easily imported. Carrots were used as both a sweetener and as a new staple to British diets – the population grew so many carrots that there was even a surplus in early 1942! In order to get this surplus under control, the government released propaganda that stated the RAF’s successful nighttime missions was down to the pilots and their crews eating carrots – which in turn led to a sharp increase in the consumption of carrots, and leading to the public perception that carrots helped you see in the dark. It’s a perception that continues to this day!
Carrots have many medicinal properties – they can repair damaged cells, maintain healthy skin, help cure eye diseases, treat worms in children, improve vision, improve breast milk in women, help regular liver function, regulate blood pressure, and much more. Carrots have the largest content of vitamin A (beta carotene) out of all known vegetables, with 100g of carrots containing 104% of our recommended daily dose of vitamin A – seconds for us all then at our next Sunday dinner!
Did you know that the world’s longest carrot was measured at 5.839 meters; and that the heaviest recorded carrot was grown in 1998 and it weighted 8.61 kg! That would make quite some carrot cake!
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