How the carrot became orange, and other stories

By Gastropod
18th April 2019
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Thousands of years ago, in what’s now Afghanistan, people unearthed the tangled, gnarled roots of Queen Anne’s Lace — a ubiquitous, hairy-stemmed plant with a spray of tiny white flowers.

These fibrous, twisted roots were white and bitter-tasting, but they had an appealing spicy, pine-y, earthy aroma. This was the unpromising ancestor of one of America’s most popular root vegetables (second only to the mighty potato).

Today, it’s mostly consumed in the form of two-inch orange slugs, marketed under the label “baby carrots.”

So how did this white, woody root become orange, as well as purple and yellow and even red? Listen in now to find out — and hear the story of the invention of the baby carrot.