Carrot Origin and History

The carrot it is an edible root and its orange color is due to its high content of carotenes, which act as important antioxidants. Specifically, the carrot is rich in beta-carotene and this, when metabolized by the liver, is transformed into vitamin A, a vitamin with high antioxidant power and especially important to keep our vision in optimal condition.

A curiosity about this edible root is that its color may vary slightly depending on the season in which it is harvested, since we are facing a biannual food crop. Because of the important nutrients it gives us, carrots are a highly prized vegetable in food and as a medicinal remedy. If you are interested in learning more about this edible root, we invite you to continue reading this article and discover the carrot origin and history.

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Origin of the word carrot

The origin of the word carrot of the current Spanish, comes from the old Castilian çahanoria, which comes from Hispanic Arabic safunnārjah and, in turn, this of the Maghreb اسفنارية (isfannāríjja). The latter originates in ancient Greek σταφυλίνη ἀγρία (sour stafylíne).

Carrot Origin and History

The domestic origin of the carrot dates back to 3,000 B.C. and botany experts geographically place this origin in Afghanistan, due to the great diversity of varieties that existed in this area.

One of the most important curiosities about the origin of the carrot is that it did not initially have the intense orange color that now characterizes it, but rather a variety that was cultivated purple on the outside and orange on the inside. Another curiosity is that initially this root was not cultivated to be ingested but was harvested for its aromatic leaves and seeds, as is currently the case with herbs such as cumin, fennel or parsley.

In the first century the use of carrots for medicinal purposes Since it was considered a powerful aphrodisiac, this use occurred in ancient Greece and Rome. In ancient Rome, in addition to having medicinal uses, the carrot was already a daily part of the food and it has been documented that its consumption was mainly in the company of spices and mulled wine, however, the carrot that the Romans consumed was not the We know today, but it had a purple and yellowish color and its shape was much thinner and elongated. In the sixth century, illustrations of the same appeared along with botanical explanations in the book Dioscorides of Vienna but, in addition, in Pompeii, Itálica Peninsula, paintings of great antiquity are preserved that show roots of peculiar color in bundles.

How the carrot came to be as we know it today

The carrot followed long trajectories until it achieved the wide distribution that characterizes it today, perhaps because of this long trajectory this root has its own myths. The best known myth about the orange color of the carrot is that the first root of this color was achieved crossing a red and a yellow variety in the area of ​​the Netherlands, precisely to honor the Dutch Royal House with the color orange. However, at present this is known as a simple myth, since in the 6th century the important book of botany and medicinal plants Dioscorides of Vienna already represented orange carrots, therefore it follows that simply that variety was selected among other multiple crosses.

Carrot production is widespread in the fifteenth century, but it is not until the sixteenth century where the orange and robust carrot that we know today begins to grow, this crop begins in Holland. The Dutch investigated on how to improve the species and finally produced 4 carrot varieties that are currently consumed:

  • Early half long
  • Late half long
  • Scarlet
  • Long orange

How carrot arrives in Europe

There is some controversy about how the carrot was introduced in Europe, it is believed that the introduction of this edible root on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea occurred thanks to the greeks and romans in the millennium 1 B.C.

It is also believed that the carrot arrives in Spain through North Africa during the time of Muslim rule over the Iberian Peninsula. From Spain it was distributed to the rest of the European continent, cultivating purple, white and yellow varieties.

The carrot in the American continent

the carrot is introduced in America in the 17th century and quickly in this continent they began to grow carrots, mainly because they began to know what are the benefits of carrots for the health of the human organism.

As for the medicinal and food uses of carrots, in the nineteenth century the micronutrients contained in this food are discovered and a special importance is given to vitamin A (obtained through beta-carotene), an essential vitamin for proper functioning of the vision and the eyeball. Therefore, during the Second World War, British airmen were supplied with large amounts of carrots in their meals to keep their vision intact.

The current carrot production

Nowadays, The main producing country of this edible root is China, since it produces approximately 7 million tons per year, followed by countries such as the United States, Russia and Poland. Also noteworthy is the production of carrots in Spain, as it produces 400,000 tons of this food annually.

Nowadays It is trying to recover the cultivation of different varieties since this also means recovering a whole range of colors, which would be very useful for more striking dishes. From its origin to the present, carrots have proven to be a very healthy food for our body and, therefore, should be present in our diet, especially during its season, since seasonal foods provide us with those nutrients that our body needs specifically at a certain season of the year. If you have found it useful to know the origin and history of the carrot and you like this edible root, we recommend that you try adding it to your diet with dishes such as carrot cream or a carrot cake.

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