What’s more tasty when it’s warm weather than grabbing a nice cold orange carrot out of the fridge to munch on? Plus carrots are not only crunchy, tasty, and highly nutritious, they are also a particularly good source of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that carrots didn’t begin as the orange beta carotene powerhouse that I’ve loved all my life.
The Dutch have been the foremost growers of carrots for centuries, beginning with white carrots, and, through cultivation, then bright yellow and deep purple. Such a rainbow of hues. The lucky Dutch received such a beautiful crop from the Persians, the original cultivators of the rainbow of carrots we see today.
When we arrive at the late 1500’s, the story, or maybe it’s a myth, states that the Dutch wished to honor William the Silent, Prince of Orange, from a town in Southern France, Arausio, which was classically pronounced “Aurenja,” close to the Spanish word for orange, naranja, who became William of Orange due to his leadership in the Dutch revolt against Spain, winning independence for the Dutch republic. So the orange carrot is botanically developed, so the story goes.
Today we see in modern Netherlands the color orange predominantly, as orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family, which hails from the House of Orange. Even their football (soccer) team is known as Oranje, Dutch for orange.
Though rare in the U.S. at one time, we can now often find those original rainbows of carrot colors in local markets and at farmers markets and the seeds at nurseries. What was old has come back around. I still love the orange carrots, but they are ALL sweet and crunchy, and the perfect treat on a warm day.