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Rooting for You

Welcome to the very first Leafy Laffs cartoon post! Leafy Laffs is a collection of Wimpy Girl cartoons intended to be the spoonful of laughter to help the vegetables go down.  Some of them are fruity, corny, and every now and then a pancake or waffle may be invited to the stage. All are created to remind us all to make healthy eating choices. Eat your heart out Popeye!

Happy International Carrot Day!

Rising temperatures and snowman carnage (carrots) scattered on the ground reminds us that it’s time to celebrate spring with a splash of orange. Today we celebrate the commonplace carrot, a favorite for rabbits, 20/20 eyesight and yummy cakes. This amazing root veggie is jampacked full of vitamins and is tasty, to boot.

As a kid, carrots were probably one of the first vegetables that you either hated or loved. Because of the nutrition benefits of the carrot it is considered to be a super food, and whether you continue to hate or love it, it should be included somehow in your diet.

Hopefully this discourse will remind you how incredibly nutritious carrots are, as well as brand your brain with a lot of cool stuff about this tantalizingly tuber.

Cool Carrot Facts

Size Matters:
Most carrots grow to a length of 10-25 cm. For the records, the longest carrot ever grown was about 6 meters long.

They are Plentiful:
It is estimated that about 40 million tons of carrots are produced every year. China provides about 45% of the annual carrot crop.

 A Root with Roots:
There is genetic evidence of carrots in prehistoric Central Asia. Around 3000 BC there are records of carrots being grown as food in Switzerland and Germany. The first modern carrots were grown in Afghanistan in the 10th century. In fact wild carrots continue to grow today in Iran and Afghanistan.

Every Body Likes Carrots:
Carrot are loaded with alpha and beta-carotene as well as Vitamins B6 and K. They usually have around 0.2% fat. (Yay!)

Pesticide Free:
Carrots develop better in soil that is low in nitrates and phosphates. If carrots grow in soil that is too rich, they get hairy! Go figure.

They are social:
Carrots grow well next to other crops that, uh, stink. Smelly veggies, like onions, garlic and chives repel carrot flies (yes, there is such a thing). To repay the stinky neighbors, carrots attract wasps, who, in turn kill small pests that prefer the malodor.

Storage Wars:
Since it takes a while to grow carrots (about 4 months) they also require specific conditions to keep them fresh for a long period of time. They like the cold, and most carrots are good for a month in the fridge. For long, long-term storage, unwashed carrots can be placed in sand and kept at temps between 0-4˚ C.

The Raw Deal:
To cook or not to cook? That is the question that has perplexed chefs and nutrition-minded ordinary folks for centuries. My mama always told me that munching on raw veggies was always better than cooking them. But, my mama was not much of a cook.

Nutritionists say that you get the most nutritional value from a carrot if you cook it. Raw carrots release about 3% of the nutritious value in your body, compared to 39% if the same carrot is cooked.

Don’t Blow Off the Top
Did you know that the tops of carrots are edible? The rabbits are probably going to get upset with me for advertising this since the tops are all they eat. Young carrot leaves are good in stir-fries and salads and if you chew on them they can freshen your breath. I guess that’s why bunnies are so adorably cuddly.

Everything in Moderation:
Speaking of bunnies, I’ve never seen an orange one, but if humans consume too many carrots they can develop a condition called carotenemia. I know, I know, it sounds nasty, but it doesn’t harm any vital organs. I just makes the skin turn yellow. This is not to be confused with jaundice, which is serious. Carotenemia doesn’t require medical treatment and usually goes away in a few months.

Super Powers:
Okay folks, I don’t want to pop anyone’s bubble, but carrots do not actually improve night vision. What?

This myth got started during World War II when the British were trying to hide their new-fangled radar technology from the enemy. The government broadcasted a propaganda campaign claiming that their fighter pilots were winning night battles because they were eating carrots to improve their night vision.

The government even started a Dig for Victory program encouraging people to grow carrots in their gardens. This was mainly done to support the propaganda, but it also helped avoid food shortages during the war.


So, are you craving a carrot yet? How about paying tribute today to this incredible root by eating carrots at every meal? (Click links for recipes!)

Breakfast:
Start the day with some carrot-apple breakfast muffins.

Lunch and Snacks:
Add carrots to a healthy lunch salad, and/or have baby carrots with ranch dressing to snack on throughout the day.

Dinner:
Have roasted or steamed carrots as the vegetable accompanying your evening meal.

And don’t forget dessert!
Yummy, delicious carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

My oh my, it doesn’t get much better than this.

“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.”
~Paul Cezanne

We’re rooting for you!

Happy Carrot Day!

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This work by Anel “Pookie” Ryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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