Quite a while back I mentioned the carrots of today look very different to the carrots of yesteryear.
Some of these lesser known heirloom and heritage varieties are still with us today, although you’re unlikely to see them at your local supermarket. It turns out the purple carrot I mentioned in my post back in 2007 has been around for at least 5,000 years!
Testing of these carrots have found them to be very high in antioxidants and also to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, with the possibility of helping in the treatment of conditions like arthritis . The purple carrot is now being grown in a number of locations around Australia for pharmaceutical purposes.
According to Greg Jardine, a biochemist and technical director of Dr Red Nutraceuticals, the purple carrot makes the blueberry look like a “lightweight” and goes as far as to say it’s the world’s healthiest food – of course, he does have a vested interest in the crop :).
Due to the influence of powerful companies that control the seed market and with that, possibly the future of food, we’ve lost so many of our food crops. For example, only 5% of the apple varieties that existed 200 years ago in the USA still remain. It’s great to see this company helping to ensure the survival of this particular crop.
The case of the purple carrot is another reason we need to encourage the planting of heritage and heirloom seeds in back yard veggie patches. It’s more than warm and fuzzy treehugger stuff. Who knows what potential some of these old word varieties hold; not just as food, but for treating illnesses and other applications.
Thanks to the Internet we can now buy these varieties online – we are no longer limited to our local nurseries and garden centers that stock whatever Big Agriculture throws at them.
If you’re in Australia, check out the seed selection at Diggers Club – there’s some weird and wonderful fruit and veggies there and the range is truly amazing!
I don’t know of any good online sources for buying heirloom and heritage seeds in other countries – if you know of any, please add them in the comments below as I’m sure other GLT readers will be interested.