Carrots are a member of the Umbeliferae family. This unique group of vegetables grow downward into the soil rather than upward towards the sun. Carrots are jam-packed with carotenes, particularly beta-carotene. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, niacin, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Better still, when sourced fresh, they taste great.
Pesticides applied to conventional carrot crops
- There are 42 pesticides with established tolerance (residue limits for pesticides used in the U.S. or by countries exporting to the U.S.) for carrots.
- 16 are acutely toxic creating a hazardous environment for farmworkers, 39 are linked to chronic health problems (such as cancer), 8 contaminate streams or groundwater, and 40 are poisonous to wildlife (Source: beyondpesticides.org).
- Pesticides that may be applied to conventionally grown carrots, which have been identified as acutely toxic, include: Bensulide, Chlorothalonil, Imidacloprid, Oxamyl, and Propiconazole.
- By way of example, o-Phenylphenol residue, a known carcinogen and developmental toxicant, was found in 6.6% of conventionally grown carrots. No detectable residue was identified in organic carrots. (Source: United Stated Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program).
Sourcing organic carrots
- Root crops, such as carrots, absorb whatever is in the soil. This makes growing carrots at home – in soil you know hasn’t been exposed to pesticides – a good idea.
- Many pesticides, some of which are highly toxic, reside in the soil for years. Residual levels of toxic pesticides are routinely found at much higher levels in conventionally grown carrots than in their organic counterparts.
- Given the popularity of carrots and the growing popularity of organically produced food, many large stores now stock organic carrots. They can also be found in specialty stores, CSAs, co-ops and farmers’ markets.
- Look for carrots with deep orange to red coloring. These contain the most beta-carotene.
- Select carrots that are firm, smooth, and well formed. Stay away from carrots that are cracked, split, or limp.
- Fresh carrots are best stored in the crisper section of your refrigerator.
- Avoid storing carrots with fruits. Many varieties of fruit produce ethylene gas as they ripen. This gas decreases the storage life of carrots.
Preparing and eating carrots
- Avoid peeling organic carrots. It’s usually unnecessary and it removes some of their vitamins.
- Raw organic carrots make a fantastic snack in between meals. Raw carrot juice is also a refreshing and particularly enjoyable beverage.
- Steam carrots in preference to boiling them. More nutrients are depleted when carrots are boiled. there is also a substantial reduction in beta-carotene.
- Although microwaving carrots can be a time-saver, the nutrient loss is roughly equivalent to boiling.
- Carrots are great lightly cooked with butter and honey; sliced and added to stir-fries; freshly grated in salads; added to soups; and included in sushi rolls.
Recipes featuring carrots
- There are many recipes featuring organic carrots. Try these:
- Organic carrot cake;
- Carrot, ginger, and beet soup; and
- Honey glazed carrots.
Nutritional properties of carrots
- Carrots are a brilliant source of carotenoids, powerful antioxidants. One cup (6oz/180g) of diced raw carrot provides approximately 843 per cent of the RDA for vitamin A.
- Carrots are a good source of fiber, manganese, niacin, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
Medicinal properties of carrots
- Many reputable peer-reviewed studies have looked at the link between carrots and cardiovascular disease. One such study, which followed 1,300 elderly people who were served at least one portion of carrots each day, found that people consuming a carotendoid-rich diet had a 60 per cent reduction in coronary artery disease compared to those who ate less than one serving.
- High carotenoid intake has also been linked with a decrease in the incidence of breast, lung, and prostate cancer. Extensive human studies have shown that a diet incorporating as little as one carrot per day has the potential to reduce the rate of lung cancer by up to 50 per cent.
- Carrots have a fairly low GI number. Studies suggest that eating foods rich in carotenoids make insulin uptake more effective, thus making blood-glucose control easier for diabetics.
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