Great questions – and, here are our top seven reasons to name mixed carrots as the vegetable of the year. These reasons are not in any specific order, although we do think that reason number five is especially compelling.
Throughout the year, we intend to further explore this amazing vegetable, providing more info about it and celebrating it in all its iterations, from carrot tip to carrot top. For now, though, see what you think of the seven reasons for our choice.
Reason #1 Flavor is Earthy Yet Sweet
Fresh carrots are delicious when cooked or raw, with different varieties of carrots having subtly different flavor profiles that comes out when, for example, they’re roasted. For example, purple carrots can be more intensely sweet than other varieties and can have a peppery taste on the tongue. Our dragon carrots, purple in hue, have a marvelous herbal finish.
White and yellow carrots, on the other hand, have mildly delicious nutty flavor without the earthiness of other hues—and carrot tops offer up an earthy dry flavor reminiscent of carrot that helps to create intriguing pesto, salsa and more.
And, although this next statement isn’t about flavor, per se, the crunchiness of a raw carrot is so incredibly satisfying. There is nothing quite like that chomp.
Reason #2 Here’s the Long and Short of It All
Although the carrot in grocery stores in the United States is often long and orange, not all carrots are like that. They can be long and narrow, long and not quite-so-narrow, and even round; the round ones are especially popular in France, so they make a wonderful addition to French dishes. Carrots also come in a spectrum of sizes (here’s a chart of produce sizes) and this diversity can add flavorful touches of surprise and delight to plates.
In fact, Farmer Lee Jones likes to see the doubletake that chefs and diners alike can take when they see the size and appearance of petite carrots.
“Then, when they taste them,” Lee continues, “they’re surprised at how these petite vegetables have all the flavor intensity of a full-sized carrot, but in a convenient bite-sized morsel. This gives chefs yet another opportunity to provide something pleasantly unexpected on the plate.”
Reason #3 Eating Rainbows of Colors, All in One Fresh Vegetable
Dieticians encourage us to eat the rainbow, with different colors of fresh fruits and vegetables having different phytochemicals and their associated nutritional benefits. To quote Today’s Dietician, “including a variety of colors in one’s diet seems to equal better overall health, especially in relation to produce. ‘Epidemiological research suggests that food patterns that include fruits and vegetables are associated with lower risk for some diseases.’”
For example, purple foods have anthocyanin, which is “particularly heart healthy and may help support healthy blood pressure,” and purple foods “may also help lower risk of cancer.” Yellow/orange foods, to share just one more example, are especially rich in beta-carotene, “integral for vision and immune function, as well as skin and bone health,” and “may also play a part in preventing cancer . . . and may also reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Reason #4 Bursting with Health Benefits
We’ve already been discussing this in reason number three, but that’s still just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to carrot and nutrition. MedicalNewsToday.com shares how carrots are the “ultimate health food,” adding that they can also play a role in diabetes control, thanks to its relatively low glycemic index and antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Healthline shares how carrot intake has been found to play a role in reducing cholesterol, and the article ends with this comment: “Carrots are the perfect snack, crunchy, full of nutrients, low in calories, and taste sweet.”
Reader’s Digest talks about how carrots can also help in fighting dementia, protecting the central nervous system during the aging process. Plus, Care2 Healthy Living reveals how carrots:
help to clean out the colon and, because of the vitamin A, flush out toxins and reduce liver bile and fat
clean teeth, scraping off plaque and food particles; carrots stimulate gums and help to prevent tooth damage
Reason #5 Bugs Bunny Would Be in Rabbit Heaven
This marvelous cartoon rabbit first appeared on July 27, 1940 and has, according to the History Channel, “amassed an amazing history of public appearances. He has been in more films than any other cartoon character, is the ninth most portrayed film character in history and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
And, when you think about Bugs Bunny, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Bugs chomping on a carrot, right? And, think hard about what we say next. It’s important!
According to Healthline.com, carrots are one of the foods that can help you to look younger. Want evidence? The video of Bugs Bunny showed above was created in 1942. Now, take a look at him in 2018 (Bugs first appears right after the 1:30 mark) and this wacky wabbit hasn’t aged a bit!
Reason #6 Oh, My Gosh: The Versatility
From soups and stews to salads and more, carrots are incredibly versatile. Delicious raw with creative dips and brilliant in smoothies, chefs are literally limited only by their imaginations. Because chefs are increasingly replacing traditional grain-based carbs with veggie-based ones, we also expect to see more carrot noodles in dishes.
As just a few other ideas, farm-fresh carrots can be:
And, we admit we can’t wait to see what the Culinary Vegetable Institute team will do on March 9 when the vegetable showcase features carrots and potatoes.
Reason #7 Carrots Are Just Plain Fascinating!
Did you know, for example, that Disney “helped the British Government win the war [World War II] by promoting carrot recipes”? Carrot characters were used to make all more eye-catching and appealing, including:
Carroty George would tell readers “I’ll tell you what to do with me!” and was promoted as being a member of the best clubs, with the “entrée of all the best kitchens,” easily able to “adapt himself to any occasion.”
Pop Carrot, meanwhile, focused on the importance of good taste – and, perhaps he was talking about manners, but he quickly segued into letting readers know that his taste was delicious in any “stew pot or saucepan.”
Clara Carrot, during the war years, was suspected of living a double life, sometimes appearing sweet; other times, “savoury.” It all depended, the newspaper shared, on how Clara was treated. “She adds piquancy to meat, fish and vegetable dishes; and in puddings, pies and cakes, she’s sweet and spicy. She’s the making of Portman Pudding.”
We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the carrot in 2019 and beyond. We’ll share plenty more about farm-fresh carrots, so please watch our blog!