A major carrot-teristic of our favorite orange vegetable (sorry pumpkins) is their affectionate nature. Don't be fooled. Just like the smiling family pit bull, they will eventually turn on you. While this underground root can be oddly shaped, others are heralded for their amusing appearance for obvious reasons. Carrots can kill.
Not all experience the dark side of this root vegetable. Indeed, carrots have aggressively begun a successful effort to change their image. See this website to see how their public relations team has revamped their image. Carrots have also developed their own version of AI – and they have targeted humans and our tendency to expand our waistlines. Carrots are well adapted in handling stress. When their taproot is growing and the tip is damaged, it can split, forming multiple roots at odd angles. During its primordium (plant embryonic development) stage, damage to the growing vegetable can cause more bizarre and extreme mutations.
Carrots will naturally grow around or avoid obstacles in the soil such as small stones and other foreign objects to prevent damage to the developing root, resulting in a wide variety of different shapes.
Other vegetables and fruits have been made to suffer. In Japan, farmers around Zentsūji, Kagawa found a way to grow cubic watermelons by growing the fruits in glass boxes and letting them naturally assume the shape of the receptacle. The square-shaped watermelon was intended to make the melons easier to stack and store, but because the melons must be picked before they’re ripe they are inedible; the cubic watermelons are also often more than double the price of normal watermelons.
In response to the real carrot danger, the European Union attempted to introduce legislation prohibiting the sale of misshapen fruit and vegetables was defeated. The proposed "uniform standardisation parameters" would have applied to straight bananas and curved cucumbers, as well as to more extreme cases such as carrots with multiple "legs", or fused fruit. The main concern for opponents of the proposed legislation was the ethical question of the wastage it would have generated if growers were forced to discard up to 20% of their crop, produce that was nutritionally identical to more regularly shaped specimens. The Fruits et légumes moches (ugly fruit and vegetables) campaign aims to encourage the purchase of more unusually shaped vegetables and fruits in France, to combat food waste.
It is common in some countries to celebrate the diversity of carrots, with particularly unusual items being entered into competitions. Many of these are judged by the ugliness of the vegetable. Some organisations run contests in which gardeners enter the largest vegetables that they have grown, with pumpkins being particular favourites.
In popular culture
The phrase, "Kau ni tahap carrot pun tak sampai!" which means "You don't even reach the level of a carrot," has recently been used as an insult. The popular BBC television programme That's Life! mixed investigative journalism with more lighthearted sections, which included items on unusually shaped vegetables.
The BBC comedy television programme Blackadder contains several jokes relating to the character Baldrick and his obsession with odd-shaped turnips. The most notable example occurs in the episode "Beer", in which Baldrick discovers a turnip shaped like a phallus, giving rise to several jokes throughout the episode.
Ben Elton's novel This Other Eden is set in a future in which most aspects of life are controlled to conformity, meaning the loss of 'amusingly shaped vegetables', much to the protagonist's annoyance.
A giant vegetable competition featured in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
- Laurie Tarkan (May 24, 2010), "The 10 Biggest Choking Hazards", The New York Times
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- Love Carrots and Other Vegetables – "A sporadic photographic journal of weird or humorous vegetables"
- The Mutato Collection – "A collection of non-standard fruits, roots and vegetables"
- MoFa-Museum of Food Anomalies – "An online exhibition of the Art of Regular Food Gone Horribly Wrong"
- BBC News – "Attempt at EU-wide 'wonky fruit and veg' ban fails"