You can’t buy many veggies at $1.25 for three pounds nowadays, which is what I paid this morning for a bag of carrots at ALDI. The carrot has lots of other virtues too. Not only is it frugal, but it’s full of Vitamin A (good for your eyes), it’s versatile, and like most fruits and veggies, it’s low calorie.
On top of all that, carrots have an interesting history. From what I’ve read, it appears the first carrots were not orange, but rather resembled the purplish carrots I’ve bought from Worden Farm at the Saturday Morning Market. Though these seem exotic to us now, word has it that purple carrots were once typical, and humans later intentionally bred the orange carrots common today.
Carrots are easy to grow in the winter here in St. Petersburg, and I have grown them in raised beds with great success. Because carrots are so cheap and plentiful, I don’t see much point in growing them, but sometimes it is fun just to get a different type of carrot.
Although carrots don’t have many pests, once I found my carrots with caterpillars all over the greens. Soon I also noticed a hovering black swallowtail butterfly watching me with apparent panic. Apparently she was the caterpillars’ mom. Of course, I was more than happy to let the little ones consume the greens, which grew back after the young butterflies sprouted their wings and left.
I later read that swallowtails lay their eggs on members of the parsley family, of which carrot is one. This fact also explains the pungent taste of some raw carrots – if you stop to think about it, you’ll notice the taste closely resembles that of parsley.
I have found an array of uses for carrots in my kitchen. I cut them into sticks to eat with a sandwich or as a snack, and I grate them into lettuce salads, slaws, and carrot salads. I also slice carrots into coins and steam or cut them into small cubes and toss into a stir fry.
For those of us seeking a thrifty way to get Vitamin A into our diets and a low-calorie food, the carrot is among the top values in the vegetable world.