Carrots are a long and thin root vegetable best known for their distinctive orange coloration, although varieties with other colors are available. The vegetable grows underground with only the leaves of the plant visible above the surface. Carrots are eaten in a number of ways, including raw, cooked and in many recipes. Carrots are an important source of vitamin A, fibre, antioxidants and other essential minerals. Today, there are many varieties of carrots and they are grown throughout much of the world. However, these modern carrots all share a common ancestor. Let’s find out where carrots come from.
Where do carrots originate from?
All varieties of modern domesticated carrots descend from the wild carrot (Daucus carota). This plant was native to Europe and Southwest Asia and was thought to have originated from Iran and Afghanistan. The wild carrot root is edible, but becomes woody with age and is quite bitter. Selective breeding over many years has led to the development of the modern varieties of carrots that we know today that are larger and more pleasant tasting. These carrots were introduced into Europe between the 8 to 10th centuries where they continued to be selectively bred and spread from here to many other parts of the world.
Where are carrots grown today?
The largest producer of carrots today is China, with an estimated 47.15% of the worldwide production. The United States, Russia and Uzbekistan all produce more than a million tonnes. Other large producers of this vegetable are Poland, the United Kingdom and Ukraine. Today, carrots are grown on every continent on Earth, apart from Antarctica.
Did you know?
The wild carrot plant is very similar in appearance to poison hemlock, which is extremely toxic to humans and many animals.