Getting in Touch with Carrots

If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy.          -Thich Nhat Hanh

Carrots emerged from the Middle East some 5,000 years ago, but they were not orange like you might expect. These first carrots were white, purple, red, or yellow and they were grown for their medicinal leaves and seeds, not the taproot that we are so familiar with today. It has been said that the Dutch crossed the red and yellow varieties to come up with the orange carrot during the 17th century to honor William of Orange. Carrots are part of the parsley family which also includes celery, fennel, dill, and coriander (to name a few). Like other members of the family, carrots have edible leafy greens full of flavor, although we usually discard them today in favor of their sweet, crunchy taproots. In a way, the carefully cultivated carrot of today is like a butterfly emerged from its cocoon – something new and beautiful and different from how we once pictured it.

The orange beauties we are accustomed to are a sweet and nutritious treat. In terms of vegetables, the sugar content of a carrot is only surpassed by that of a beet. This sugar contributes 3 of the 6 grams of carbohydrates in the average medium sized carrot, which is 87% water, has 25 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and provides more than 200% of your daily requirement of vitamin A. Interestingly, carrots contain no actual vitamin A, but are chock-full of beta carotene which the human body converts to vitamin A as needed. Beta carotene is responsible for that bright orange hue, so the deeper the orange, the more beta carotene. Carrots and their greens contain a wealth of additional minerals and nutrients including vitamins C, K, B6, potassium and manganese to name a few. The carrot is truly a thing of beauty, both inside and out.

It’s easy to love the simple carrot stick: a reliably crunchy snack that is easy to dip into your favorite spread, dip, or dressing. But there are plenty of carrot recipes out there that warrant your attention. Like these Roasted Carrots, Potatoes, and Shallots or this Carrot Green Chimichurri (maybe even both together). Or spice things up with a Creamy Carrot and Coconut Milk Soup with Thai Red Curry or a Moroccan Carrot Radish Salad. You can even round out the meal with some Carrot Cookies or a classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Carrots are versatile, so feel free to get creative and use them liberally!

We have some especially delicious carrots from Barking Moon Farm here at the co-op right now. Not only are these sweet winter carrots locally grown in the Applegate Valley, they are also certified organic. Be sure to pick up some Barking Moon carrots before they’re out of season, otherwise you’ll have to wait until next winter to get in touch with these local carrots!