The National Garden Bureau has designated 2016 the Year of the Carrot, a fact that would make Bugs Bunny proud. According to the NGB, “carrots are one of the top 10 most economically important vegetable crops in the world.” They’re easy for your customers to grow at home, too, whether sown directly in the garden or planted in containers.
We’re familiar with the long, tapered, orange root veggie, but did you know that the original carrot was a scrawny purple thing? It’s thought that the carrot originated in Afghanistan; further cultivation by the Greeks and Romans produced tastier selections in purple, red and black. By the early 17th century, the Dutch (of course!) bred the carrot we know and love today.
Daucus carota (wild carrot; Queen Anne’s lace) is a member of the Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae), a large family of some 300 genera that includes celery and parsley, as well as coriander, dill, fennel and parsnip. C. carota subsp. sativus is the cultivated veggie we use in carrot cake and force upon our jaw-clenching children at dinner time. Not limited to orange, the cultivated carrot comes in a rainbow of colors and a variety of sizes—although the adorable “baby” carrots found swaddled in plastic at your local grocer are not infants at all but are, in fact, sliced and sculpted from normal-sized carrots.
For more information about the National Garden Bureau’s “Year of the” designation, visit http://ngb.org/year_of/index.cfm?YOID=45#.