When I was little, carrots were often touted as having the mystical ability to boost one’s vision to near super-human levels*. Now, I’m not sure of the exact origin of this myth, but I could imagine the thought percolating in the mind of a frustrated mom, sick of employing the usual tactics to convince her children to eat their vegetables. Let’s be real, it wasn’t much of a stretch, carrots are an easy sell; combine their cheery orange hue, vibrant crunch, and sweet flavor with the promise of superpowers, and it’s no surprise to see their resounding popularity amongst the lunchbox set and beyond.
*Naturally this myth has some grounding in truth, as one of the nutrients abundant in carrots (beta-carotene) does play a role in vision. A diet with insufficient levels of Vitamin A and/or it’s precursor beta-carotene can result in eye problems, but this really isn’t an issue for the vast majority of people in the developed world, you know, unless you subsist on a diet of chicken nuggets. The danger of consuming too much Vitamin A, or any nutrient really, (supplements are scary stuff; carrots pose little risk unless you’re literally eating bushels of them) is far worse. Bottom line (and the end of my rambling tangent on nutrition): please don’t take supplements unless explicitly directed to do so by your doctor or RD. Then again, why are you taking nutritional advice from someone who practically considers Pixy Stix a food group?
When my mom was a little girl, her dad would threaten to put any vegetables she didn’t finish eating at dinner under her pillow (broccoli usually played a starring role in this story), to be eaten, mushy and cold, the next day for breakfast. Now, I’m not sure if it ever actually came to that (gosh, I hope not), but I’d hazard to say that this scare tactic did little to encourage her interest in green vegetables. Nowadays, my mom is a grown woman (one would hope – right?) with children of her own, and despite that early roadblock eats her vegetables with relish, but I’d wager that she missed out on a few years of cruciferous-veggie-munching largely due to that early trauma.