The taproot is the most commonly used food from carrots, and while most of these are orange in color, black, purple, red, white, and yellow carrots are also cultivated. Carrots originated thousands of years ago in southwestern Asia and Europe, and selective breeding produced the large, orange root we are used to today. Total annual production is estimated to be tens of millions of tons. Some carrot greens are also eaten as food.
Related: Wild carrots (also edible, although the taproots are usually smaller); also celery and a number of spices, including anise, caraway, cilantro, dill, parsley, and several other spices.
Harvest season in the LV: June through November.
Growing conditions: Loose, loamy soil that is well drained. Overly rich soil tends to produce deformed roots.
Cooking/Preparation required: Carrots are eaten raw and lightly boiled or steamed; also used in soups and
Fertilizers or pesticides: None needed; companion planting such as onions discourage most common pests. If allowed to flower, carrots attract wasps that kill other insect pests. Unfortunately, many commercial growers do use pesticides, and the residues remain in the carrots themselves.
Nutrition & Health: Generally considered to be a good source of alpha- and beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and fibre.
Nutrient content can vary greatly depending on soil conditions, with organic methods and a soil rich in organic matter generally producing the best results.
‘Dirty Dozen’ or ‘Clean Fifteen’ lists do not necessarily apply to produce grown on local farms — you need to check with the farmer to determine if and when any fertilizers or pesticides were applied.
More info — competing ‘facts’ about carrots:
Science Kids: Carrot Facts for Kids”
“The human body turns beta-carotene into vitamin A and carrots are one of the best sources for beta-carotene. Vitamin A is important for the health of our vision (including our night vision) as well as our bones, teeth and skin.”
Empowered Sustenance: “Why You Won’t Get Vitamin A From Carrots” –
“The most important fact about vitamin A is the difference between retinoids and cartenoids. The vitamin A from animal sources is retinoids, also called retinol, while plant source vitamin A is carotenoids, such as beta carotene.
“Animal sources of retinol is bio-available, which means the body can utilize it. The vitamin A from plant sources, in contrast, must first be converted to retinol to be useful in the body. This poses two big problems.
“First, when we are in pristine health, it requires at least six units of carotenes to convert into 1 unit of retinol. To put this in perspective, that means one must eat 4 1/2 pounds of carrots to potentially get the amount of useable A as in 3 oz. of beef liver. What happens if we have digestive issues, hormone imbalances, or other health problems? It requires even more units of carotene in the ratio.
“Second, the carotene-to-retinol conversion is highly compromised. As a matter of fact, this conversion is negligible for many individuals. . . . So, do you still think carrots are a vitamin A food?”