So…I forgot to post this before I left work on Friday. I got busy. Go figure. Featured Food of the Week?
Word, to yo mother (or Etymology)
Comes from the Middle French carotte, from Late Latin carōta, from Greek karōton, originally from the Indo-European root ker- (horn), due to its horn-like shape.
Carrots were the first vegetable to be canned commercially.
Carrots come in a variety of colors: purple, white, red…-orange was not the original color.
During World War II, British aviators were fed a specially developed English carrot, high in beta-carotene, to overcome night blindness.
Where Are They Grown?
For the United States, 80% of the carrots consumed are grown in California, on 700,000 acres, bringing in $275-$325 million annually. 70% of the crop is grown specifically for baby cut carrots, which are regular size carrots just cut and reshaped (and knocking down the nutrients).
Can You Grow It At Home?
Probably not the best choice for beginners or those with smaller gardens, but yep they can. Deep, softer soil is a must, and even watering every week is needed. There’s a lot of different varieties and colors to choose from. Check out this link from Cornell (can’t get much more scholarly than that!) for detailed information:
When Is It In Season?
In California, carrots are grown year-round, so thanks to the industrial “machine”, carrots are available year-round relatively easily. Carrots cannot tolerate frost, so they are planted after the last frost in Spring, and usually ready for harvest about 60-70 days later. Other varieties of carrots can be planted in Summer, and harvested before the first frost of Fall.
Storage & Shelf-Life
Even the green tops of carrots are edible, but they should be stored without the tops in the fridge. Cut the tops off about a ½ inch to an inch below the greens. The greens can be kept for a few days in the fridge, and taste great in soups, salads, or as a garnish. I made soup this weekend and added the tops- even the hubby admitted it smelled great and he hates carrots. The carrots themselves should be stored in the crisper drawer for about two weeks. Before using, use a vegetable brush to remove all traces of soil.
Carrots can be frozen fairly simply. Blanch whole carrots for 5 minutes, or diced or sliced carrots for two before freezing.
Ummm, Why Should I Care?
To me, carrots are the like a super-hero. They leap tall buildings in a single bound and all that stuff. Metaphorically, obviously. But they do in fact do super things for the body. Of course, many know that the beta carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body, is good for the eyes. But the beta carotene is also a strong antioxidant that helps to keep free radicals in the body in-check and therefore lessens the risk of all types of cancer. They are a great source of fiber, which helps rid the body of nasty toxins and keep everything, umm…regular. Carrots are great for women’s health. They help to regulate menstrual cycles and enriches the adrenal glands to help stabilize the endocrine (hormones!) system. In addition, they can help a woman make extra healthy breast milk. Studies also show that when carrots are eaten daily, they lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as regulate blood sugar.
Still not impressed? They can also improve the appearance of the skin, hair and nails.
Still not impressed?
Carrots are also helpful in the following cases: Obesity, poisoning of the blood, gum disease, insomnia, inflamed kidney, liver, gallbladder, Alzheimer’s disease, colitis, ulcer and painful urination, strengthening bones, nervous disorders and increased energy.
Really, the only interesting use I found was as a contraceptive! Many research studies (including modern day and ancient trials) found that seeds and tops hindered implantation. Eat up…or stop eating them (depending on your goal, obviously).
A lot of people I know hate carrots. I love ‘em. I eat them like chips or pretzels, which means I eat them raw. Cooking carrots can increase their glycemic load, or the amount of sugar that they dump into the body at once. Since I personally need to stay low on the glycemic index, I choose to eat them raw. BUT! It’s actually okay and recommended to eat them cooked, or roasted, or baked, or in cake (probably not that last one). I do make homemade chicken soup a lot, with lots of carrots. Because they are a root vegetable, it can take a lot to break down the carrot to access the good stuff (the nutrients). Cooking carrots starts the breaking down process which makes the body work less. BUT! Extreme heat can “kill” the nutrients. So what do you do?! Eat a few raw carrots everyday and add a few servings of cooked carrots each week. This is why it’s important to know your own body, and what your body needs.
Besides just the regular boil and serve, carrots can be added to many dishes in a variety of ways.