Harvest of the Month for December is Carrots, and they are featured on the snack and lunch menus at public schools throughout Ojai and Ventura County. Poco Farms has been growing carrots for our district this year, and some of the carrots served will have traveled a short distance (under a mile) to the schools.
The part of the carrot we eat and enjoy is the taproot which grows under ground. Carrots can be either bright orange, red, purple, white or yellow. Modern popular varieties such as Danvers or Imperator were bred way back when from the wild carrot Daucus carota, and cultivars are split between two groups, the Western and Eastern types, with origins tracing back as far as the 10th century in Persia and the 17th century in the Netherlands.
Carrots are high in Vitamin A equiv.beta-carotene and have long be thought to help build healthy strong eyes, and some believe perhaps they have the ability to help with night blindness. Carrots are also a good source of Vitamin K and B6, and are over 80% water. The store well and can be kept over winter in a cellar, or for several months in cool place or refrigerator. Carrots grow well in home and school gardens and are fun for beginners to start from seed.
Carrots are a very popular and versatile vegetable as they can be eaten raw or cooked, sweet or savory. Many chefs use mirepoix, diced carrots together with celery and onions, as the base to flavor many soups, stews and sauces. Carrots are widely used in cuisines around the world, often raw in salads, cooked in soups, baked sweet glazed, or made into muffins or cake. The are easily cut into ribbons, discs, or matchsticks and they are a super portable and healthy snack.
Carrots have been used since medieval times as a natural sweetener as carrots contain a good amount of sugar, second highest amount among other veggies after the sweet sugar beet. Carrots were widely popularized during World War II as there was surplus in Great Britain , and sugar was rationed . Carrots were encouraged to be used in recipes, and radio shows gave tips to housewives on how to cook creatively with carrots, carrot cake made without sugar anyone?
For more fun info on everything carrots, check out this site http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk.