Featured Crop: Carrots
Most of us grew up being told that carrots were good for you, and as we now know, that couldn’t be more true! Many vegetables pack a dense shot of nutrition and carrots are no exception.
Health Benefits of Carrots:
Carrots are excellent sources of vitamin A, and maintain other nutrients such as fiber, potassium and vitamin C. A deficiency of vitamin A can cause difficulty seeing over time. Since carrots are rich in vitamin A, they are good for improving eyesight and preventing conditions like blindness from developing as we age. Carrots have the ability to boost the immune system, cleanse the body of toxins, and assist with the aging process. Many of these health benefits are due to the fact that carrots contain beta-carotene, which acts as an antioxidant. They are also low in calories, with one cup of chopped carrots providing about 52 calories.
Florida’s favorable climate and growing conditions allow for the production of a variety of crops. The diversity and abundance of agricultural products generated, adds to our state’s economy by contributing roughly $150 billion dollars in sales revenue, annually. In terms of crops, farmers in this region mainly plant corn, soybeans, peanuts and cotton. Additionally, some vegetables, with carrots being one of them, are becoming a popular new addition to the typical rotation. Carrots are conveniently cold hardy and able to withstand freezing temperatures. Likewise, carrots mature in 70 to 120 days, allowing time for a spring planting of the next crop. This timing provides an additional cash crop opportunity for farmers, aside from the usual spring and fall growing seasons.
Fun Facts about Carrots:
- The carrot is thought to have developed in Afghanistan from the wild plant, Queen Anne’s lace ( carotavar. carota), which is native to Asia and Europe.
- We think of carrots as only being orange but they can also be also purple, white, yellow, or red. The purple pigmented carrots have a higher concentration of antioxidants.
- Carrots were first grown as medicine, not food, for various ailments.
- The average American eats about 12 pounds of carrots a year. (That’s only one cup per week.)
- Cultivated carrots are roughly made up of about 88% water, 7% sugar, 1% protein, 1% fiber, and 3% other.
- The carrot is in the top 10 of the most economically important vegetable crops, globally speaking.
- Carrots are a member of the Apiaceae family, which also includes celery, anise, dill, and cilantro.
- The US is responsible for at least 80% of the world’s supply, and California is considered the carrot capital of the world (for the quantity of carrots grown there).
For more information on carrots or other Florida grown commercial crops, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension agriculture agent.
UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions – “Carrots.” Updated November 2017. http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/edibles/vegetables/carrots.html
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). “Snap-Ed Connection – Carrots”. Updated January 2018. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/carrots
Photos by Dale Townsend of Townsend Brother’s Farm, Inc., Live Oak, Florida
UF/IFAS Extension in Suwannee County is an Equal Opportunity Institution.