Carrots are a root vegetable that originated in Afghanistan. They were purple, red, white, and yellow, but never orange.
Both the Ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated carrots.
The Ancient Greeks called the carrot a philtron, which translates to “love charm.” They believed the carrot made both men and women more amorous.
Hippocrates recommended women eat carrot seeds to prevent pregnancy. Some modern studies indicate there may be some validity to this and that eating carrot seeds after intercourse may in fact prevent the egg implantation process and block progesterone synthesis.
Hippocrates created a broth recipe for good health consisting of carrots, celery, root parsley, and leeks.
As a joke, Caligula fed the entire Roman Senate nothing but dishes made of carrots at a banquet in the hope that their animal natures would overtake them and he could watch them “rut like wild beasts.”
China, Japan, and India were cultivating carrots by the 13th century.
In the 16th century, Dutch carrot growers invented the orange carrot in honor of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family. They did this by cross breeding pale yellow carrots with red carrots.
Newly orange, carrots traveled England with Dutch travelers during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
The carrot soon caught on in England as both a food and a fashion accessory. Ladies would often use carrot tops to decorate their hats.
The settlers at Jamestown in 1607 introduced carrots to North America.
Thomas Jefferson grew a variety of different carrots in his gardens at Monticello. In 1814 he produced 18 bushels of carrots.
The scene from the movie It Happened One Night in which Clark Gable leans nonchalantly against a fence eating carrots while talking to Claudette Colbert inspired the creators of Bugs Bunny to give him the same nonchalant, carrot-eating demeanor.
China is the world’s top carrot producer. The country produced 35 percent of the world’s carrots in 2004. Russia is the second top producer and the United States the third.
Carrots ranked as the seventh most valuable crop produced in the United States in 2004.
California is the top fresh carrot producer in the United States, while Washington is the top producer of carrots meant for canning and other processing.
A 2005 poll revealed that carrots are the third most popular vegetable in Britain. (Brussels sprouts are the least popular.)
Carrots are about 87% water.
Orange carrots get their color from beta carotene.
They have more beta carotene than any other vegetable. One cup of carrots has 16,679 IU of beta-carotene.
Eating too many carrots can cause a person’s skin to turn yellowish orange, especially on the palms or soles of the feet. This is called carotenemia. It is completely reversible once the consumption of carrots is reduced.
One cup of raw carrots contains about 52 calories.
The longest carrot ever recorded was nearly 17 feet long.
The largest carrot ever recorded weighed 18.985 pounds.