The truth about carrots

The latest meme (to me) making the rounds is that carrots used to be be white, purple or yellow. The Dutch made the orange in tribute to William of Orange. True?

(And yes of course I might have been able to google this but I wanted the dopes input)

2009 version:

Wikpedia says “There are many claims that Dutch growers created orange carrots in the 17th century to honor the Dutch flag at the time. Other authorities argue these claims lack convincing evidence.” So there’s some controversy? Yet the article has a picture of an orange carrot from a 6th century AD codex.

How about the story straight from the horse’s mouth? (Okay, straight from the “carrot museum”, but horses eat carrots–get it?)

Here’s the money quote:

"Did the Dutch “Invent” Orange Carrots to honour the House of Orange?

It is not true they specifically developed the orange for the royal family - The closest to the truth is that the Dutch adopted orange as its the national colour and then added orange carrots to the list of items “dedicated” to the royal family. The orange carrot came first - the Royal family dedication second. In fact the Principality of Orange took its name not from the fruit, but from a Roman-Celtic settlement on the site which was founded in 36 or 35 BC and was named Arausio)."

I’m glad there’s a carrot museum.

It’s not true that the Dutch ‘invented’ orange carrots. They simply took existing orange carrots as the ‘preferred’ color, and bred & raised them a lot (Dutch agriculture is extensive), so they became the normal, expected color.

I have some friends who raise and market vegetables. They used to have occasional carrots that ‘sported’ a different color than orange, usually white or yellow, only rarely purple. Previously, they couldn’t sell them – they ate them themselves. Now, they sell them to grocery stores that label them ‘gourmet heirloom carrots’ and charge high prices for them (though they did have to offer samples to taste at first). Here in Minnesota, in the Fall purple carrots (Mn Vikings) or yellow-gold carrots (University of MN) sell pretty well.

One speculation on the (many!) pages at the museum site is that way back when, orange carrots might have become more popular because the orange pigment is fat soluble while the red/purple pigment is water soluble–orange carrots result in less mess when cooked.

I think that’s the first time I’ve heard “extensive” applied to Dutch agriculture. “There’s a lot of it” yes (specially considering the amount of land available), but normally in agriculture I hear “extensive” applied to systems such as those in a lot of the US based on having a lot of land; by this meaning, the kind of agriculture practiced in the Netherlands is the poster-girl for “intensive”.

In World War 2, Britain had a propaganda campaign that ‘eating carrots helped you see in the dark’.
This was to conceal the fact from the Germans that the improved accuracy of British was actually through radar.

It probably worked for a while - and encouraged the civilian population to eat more carrots!

From the carrot museum:

… The main messages from the Ministry of Food advertising was “Carrots Keep You Healthy and Help You See in the Dark”. The public interpreted this as acquiring improved night vision, in blackout situations. ie seeing better in the dark, sort of super human vision!
… The RAF were using their latest discovery of on board radar (important point - on board, not land based) and produced propaganda about intense carrot consumption to try deceive the enemy. (but mainly, I believe to assist the food campaign) I doubt this was truly believed by the enemy but it would have been investigated by the Germans thus diverting their research efforts.

Carrots? Oh, you mean orange parsnips.

While Dutch agriculture is certainly intensive, by being the second-largest exporter in the world, I think it surely also qualifies as extensive.

The two terms are opposite, when it refers to techniques. And second-largest exporter measured how? If it’s by value of exported items, a large part of that is because they grow very high-value items.

We weren’t talking about agricultural techniques, until you were. You are correct that the Dutch do not employ “extensive farming techniques”. But given the size of the production, “extensive” seems an appropriate description of Dutch agriculture, as Tim-@Tetc appears to have used it.

Considering that Netherlands agriculture export was worth around $90Bn in 2014 and the U.S. reached $120Bn in 2016* and pair that with the area used for agriculture, (4.5 million acres vs 922 million acres) I’m not sure either adjective is relevant to the discussion.
I found an article in the Economist about a dairy farmer that who only uses robots on the farm and the whole thing is monitored on his smart phone.

*I couldn’t find data for the same year for some reason.

I suggest we define terms to compare e.g. US and Dutch agriculture.

Let ‘extensive agriculture’ mean a large area of land is used and ‘intensive agriculture’ mean a piece of land is very productive.

Then the US has extensive agriculture and the Dutch have intensive agriculture.