We all know carrots as those adorable orange roots with the tufted green hairstyle and their promise of superhuman eyesight, but that’s not what they really are. Not what they used to be. In the grand scheme of things, orange carrots are very young. Only a couple of hundred years old. Babies! Still immature and infantile. If popular lore is to be trusted, carrots owe their sunny orange skin to 17th-century Dutch vegetable growers who wanted to honour the royal House of Orange and cross-bred various cultivars from the East and West, to achieve this bright orange carrot. Until then, carrots were anything and everything from white, to yellow, red, purple, and even black. It seems the orange ones were so fancied by everyone, that they became the standard and all other varieties withered into virtual oblivion.
Thankfully, their disappearance was not complete and we still have a number of cultivars with colours that are prettier than the fanciest flowers. These “heirloom” varieties are not just pretty in looks, but also in name, with varieties called Purple Dragon, Yellowstone, Lunar White, Atomic Red, and Cosmic Purple. How can you not take them out on a date? So I brought a bunch home with me yesterday, to keep company to a few wood pigeons that would be dinner. They were beautiful to look at and to cook with. Not to mention to eat.
It’s a real great shame that the diversity of our food has decreased so much. We have not only reduced the types of vegetables we eat to a handful (really, count the types you typically eat, it’s not that many), we have also basically reduced each type to a single variety. There are exceptions, of course. Potatoes still seem to enjoy a different, multi-varietal status, as do a few other fruits or vegetables, but if you consider what the possibilities are… it’s downright depressing. Have a look at the pictures of some carrot examples below and tell me you wouldn’t like a bit more variety… I know I would, so (wait for it, this one’s for you Martin) I’ll keep rooting for it.
thanks for stopping by today,
some images from The Sustainable Seed Co