"¢Â I figured that the carrot might prove to be a difficult food to find facts on. Turns out, the carrot has had a far more intriguing life than most would expect. Despite its trademark orange appearance, carrots come in many colors, including purple! The "western carrot" was cultivated by the Dutch, who made the color a symbol for the House of Orange.

"¢Â It doesn't end there - there has been an instance where cows who ate orange carrots produced pink milk. And in rare cases, excessive intake of carrots can lead to Carotenemia - or, the skin turning orange (no, cough, George Hamilton does not suffer from this)

"¢Â In addition to running the color spectrum, carrots are also versatile in their uses: they can be used to create anything from a clarinet to a Formula 3 Racing Car's steering wheel.

"¢Â Carrots were first grown as a medicine rather than a food, which is of little wonder give their high content of essential nutrients like beta carotene. To access all of their wonderful nutritional content, one should cook them whole; they are one of the few vegetables that aren't healthier in the raw. Additionally, carrots also liked to be "stressed" -- cutting them with a knife actually makes them "kick up their juice."

"¢Â The average person will consumer 10,866 carrots in a lifetime (but don't do it all at once ... see the note on Carotenemia above!), and for the most part they will be orange and normally shaped. However, for any Flossy readers living in or traveling to Europe, it seems that the EU is lifting the ban on misshapen vegetables, which means the look of marketplace carrots might become a tad more avant garde.

"¢ So what happened to the cast off veggies before they were allowed back at market stands? Originally, the waste was curbed by the creation of "baby" carrots, which were cut and peeled to appear normal but small. "Baby carrots first appeared in US supermarkets in 1989, and there are two types - real baby carrots, and manufactured (cut and peeled)."

"¢Â Bigger, Faster, Stronger facts: The longest carrot recorded was 5.14m (16ft 10.5in) in 1996, the world's heaviest carrot was 18.985 lb (8.61kg), recorded in 1998, and did you know carrots can make a material as strong as carbon fiber? It's time to celebrate the carrot!

"¢Â You may note that a great deal of my info and links this week came from UK sources - the carrot is the third most popular veggie in the UK (losing out to onions and sweetcorn, forsooth!). Where do carrots fall on your rankings, Flossers? I'll start off by saying they are definitely my #1. I cook them in stir fry, add them to pasta, eat them with hummus or raw, etc and onward, so I'd like to hear your uses for them, too!

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

"˜Dietribes' appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.