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Extension > Food > Farm to School > Minnesota Toolkit for School Foodservice > Promoting Food > Promoting Carrots

Promoting Carrots

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carrots

Cool Stuff About Carrots!

Did you know there is a carrot variety for every letter of the alphabet? Minnesota produces approximately 2000 acres of carrots annually. Each acre produces nearly 18 tons of carrots. That means 71,200,000 pounds of carrots are grown in Minnesota each year! Most of the carrots grown in Minnesota are produced in southeast and central Minnesota.

Carrots are a taproot, which means they have a root that grows downward into the soil. The carrot root not only anchors the plant and absorbs nutrients from the soil, but it acts as a storage depot for carbohydrates. The average person eats about 14 pounds of carrots every year and although we are most familiar with the orange carrot, carrots can be red, yellow, white, green, black and purple.

Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which our bodies turn into vitamin A. Carrots have more beta-carotene than any other fruit or vegetable! Vitamin A is important for good eyesight, especially at night. Vitamin A helps your body fight infection, is good for your teeth and bones, and keeps your skin and hair healthy.

You can pick some up with your family at the local farmer’s market or FARM NAME. Try using the recipe in this month’s newsletter. Today at lunch, you will have the opportunity to sample carrots in FOOD ITEM from FARM NAME/CITY.

carrots

In [MONTH] your child tried [FOOD ITEM] with locally grown carrots from [FARM NAME] in [CITY]. Prepare this delicious recipe with your family and ask your child(ren) if they can answer the following trivia questions.

  1. Carrots are a taproot. The root anchors the plant and absorbs nutrients from the soil. The root also acts as a storage depot for what?
  2. Minnesota produces about 2,000 acres of carrots each year and each acre produces about 18 tons of carrots. Can you figure out how many pounds of carrots Minnesota grows each year? (Hint: 1 ton = 2000 pounds)
  3. Orange carrots have more of what nutrient than any other fruit or vegetable?

Trivia Answers

  1. Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the major source of energy for your body!
  2. Answer: About 72,000,000 pounds (71,200,000 to be exact) pounds of carrots are grown in Minnesota each year! Most of the carrots grown in Minnesota are produced in southeast and central Minnesota. Did you know the average person eats about 14 pounds of carrots every year? We may be most familiar with the orange carrot, but carrots can be red, yellow, white, green, black and purple!
  3. Orange carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which our bodies turn into vitamin A. Orange carrots have more beta-carotene than any other fruit or vegetable! Vitamin A is important for good eyesight, especially at night. Vitamin A helps your body fight infection, is good for your teeth and bones, and keeps your skin and hair healthy.

MS Word version of Newsletter

carrots

History & Origin

  • The first edible root carrots, which were purple, were cultivated in Afghanistan and then brought to the Mediterranean area more than 2000 years ago.
  • The wild carrot is native to Europe and parts of Asia. Archeological digs have found that carrot seeds were being used 10,000 years ago! At that time, the carrot seeds were used for medicinal purposes.
  • Orange carrots did not appear until the 1700s, when Dutch plant breeders bred them to match the Dutch flag. Orange carrots are the only carrots with beta carotene. Today most carrots eaten around the world are orange. In 2002 European farmers began growing purple carrots again.
  • In early Celtic literature, the carrot is referred to as the "Honey Underground"!
  • The Greek foot soldiers who hid in the Trojan Horse were said to have consumed ample quantities of raw carrots to inactivate their bowels.
  • The Ancient Greeks called the carrot plant Philtron or Bird's Nest.

Nutrition

  • Just one medium carrot or a handful of baby carrots counts as one serving of your daily veggies.
  • Orange carrots are a great source of beta-carotene. Carrots contain a group of plant pigments called carotenoids, and beta-carotene is a member of this group. These plant pigments were first identified in carrots and therefore their name was derived from the word carrot.
  • Our bodies turn beta-carotene into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for good health, especially for your eyes. Carrots are one of the best sources of vitamin A. Vitamin A is good for your bones, teeth, vision, and your skin.
  • Purple carrots contain purple pigments called anthocyanins, which act as anti-oxidants that protect the body.
  • Carrots are a good source of fiber, which is good for the health of your digestive system.

Did you know…?

  • Carrots are members of the parsley family, characterized by the feathery green leaves. Other members include parsnips, fennel, dill and celery.
  • Carrots have a higher natural sugar content than all other vegetables with the exception of beets.
  • Baby carrots were once longer carrots that have been peeled, trimmed to 1-1/2–2 inches in length and packaged.
  • True baby carrots are removed from the ground early and actually look like miniature carrots.
  • California produces about 60 percent of the U.S. carrot crop. About 25 percent of the annual crop goes toward the production of mini-peeled carrots.
  • The World Longest Carrot recorded in 2007 was 19 feet 1 7/8 inches (5.839 meters)
  • While many varieties of carrots are grown throughout the world, most U.S. consumers know the orange “carotene” carrot best.
  • The world’s heaviest carrot recorded in 1998 was 18.985 pounds (8.61kg).
  • The average person will consume 10,866 carrots in their lifetime.
  • The Japanese word for carrot is "ninjin"!
  • The classic Bugs Bunny carrot is the "Danvers" type.
  • Carrots were the first vegetable to be canned commercially.
  • Carrot seeds are tiny. There are between 175,000 and 400,000 seeds in a pound. A teaspoon can hold approximately 2000 carrot seeds!

How to Eat Carrots

  • Raw carrots are a wonderful snack, especially when you want something sweet. With the exception of beets, carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetable.
  • Grated carrots are great on salads, in sandwiches and in muffins, quick breads, cakes and cookies.
  • Cooked carrot coins are a great side dish, and can be added to soups and stews.
  • Try to stir-fry, boil, steam, or microwave carrots.
  • Try carrots in your favorite casserole.

The above information was compiled from:

www.ipmcenters.org/cropprofiles/docs/MNCarrot.pdf
www.jjdst.com/category_mgmt.cfm?product_id=carrots
www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/alt-ag/carrots.htm

www.thefresh1.com/carrots.asp
www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=5231
http://producepedia.com/produce/carrots-0
www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/vegetables/growing-carrots-and-root-vegetables/
www.mda.state.mn.us/news/MDAPublications.aspx
http://4h.okstate.edu/
www.carrotmuseum.co.uk

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Tasting Poster (527 K PDF)

Table Top Trifold (435 K PDF)

Index Card (625 K PDF)

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carrots basket Carrots Basket Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
carrots big bunch Carrots Big Bunch Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
carrots multicolor Carrots Multicolor Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
carrots bunches Carrots Bunches Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
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  • Honey, I “Shrunk” the Carrot

    Using carrots as a medium, students will learn about the process of osmosis. Carrot osmosis experiment

  • How Fast Can a Carrot Rot?

    Students conduct experiments to determine what environmental factors favor decomposition by soil microbes. They use chunks of carrots for the materials to be decomposed, and their experiments are carried out in plastic bags filled with dirt. Every few days students remove the carrots from the dirt and weigh them. Depending on the experimental conditions, after a few weeks most of the carrots will have decomposed completely.

    Carrot decomposition experiment
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