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The myriad benefits of colorful carrots

The USDA, in conjunction with scientists at the UC Desert Research and Extension Center in El Centro, are crossbreeding carrots from around the world to blend benefits in a native California variant, according to an article in the Imperial Valley Press.

In the story, UC Farm Smart outreach coordinator Nancy Caywood provided an empirical perspective on the unusual carrot breeds.

“Each variety was pretty unique,” Caywood was quoted. “Some were more tubular, others had thick crowns, and still others had long roots.”

USDA researcher Rob Kane told reporter William Roller that yellow carrots from France, red from China and purple from Turkey may have traits that make the vegetable healthier than common orange varieties and may allow farmers to produce a healthy crop with reduced chemical use.

Colorful carrots contain antioxidants, natural plant compounds that can help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. A Brazilian carrot being studied by USDA researcher Phil Simon may impart natural resistance to nematodes, microscopic, soil-borne pests that can cause stunted growth, forking or swelling of the vegetable.

To control the effects, farmers typically fumigate the soil, Simon said.

“We’re in the process of proving we can farm without nematicides,” Simon was quoted. “The industry will save money not using fumigants and we can benefit the environment.”

Carrots come in various colors and shapes.
Carrots come in various colors and shapes.

Posted on Friday, March 4, 2011 at 7:25 AM

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