Taking Inventory: Carrot
You know when people say you should eat your greens? Well, today’s green is actually orange. It’s our item of the week – the carrot.
Carrots were added to Minecraft in version 1.4.2 – the Pretty Scary Update, which also added anvils, bats and the Wither. Originally, carrots would only drop occasionally from zombies, but today they can also be found in shipwreck supply chests, Pillager outpost chests, and in village farm plots.
The obvious thing to do with a carrot is to eat it. Hold the use key with it selected and CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP, you’ll scoff it down. Both tasty and healthy! Eating a carrot will restore one and a half hunger icons, and unlike potatoes it doesn’t need to be cooked first.
But wait! Before you eat the first carrot you obtain, can I persuade you to plant it instead? Use a carrot on some farmland and you’ll turn it into a carrot plant, which drops 1-5 carrots when fully grown (or more if you have a fortune-enchanted tool).
This is where the power of maths comes in. If you plant all of the carrots you just harvested, then your next harvest will be up to 25 carrots. Plant all those, and your harvest after that will be up to 125 carrots. Two stacks of carrots for just three plant/harvest cycles! Now that’s good value. Just watch out for rabbits, who’ll nibble through your carrot crops pretty fast.
Now, what are you going to do with all those carrots? Well, on top of eating them you can use carrots to breed or attract pigs and rabbits, or to trade with farmer villagers for emeralds. You can also craft them into a few different things – rabbit stew, a carrot on a stick (used to control a saddled pig), or a golden carrot (used for making potions of night vision). Finally, if all else fails, carrots are great fodder for your composter.
In the real world, carrots are thought to have originated in ancient Persia (today’s Iran and Afghanistan) in a species called the wild carrot. Originally these plants were cultivated for their nice-smelling leaves and seeds rather than the roots (which is what we eat today). Over the centuries, however, they were selectively bred to make them less bitter and increase their sweetness – yielding the carrot we know and love today.
There are all kinds of weird myths around carrots. One is that their orange colour was created in the 17th century by Dutch growers to honour William of Orange. This is unlikely to be true, as orange carrots appear in 6th-century biological study books.
Another myth is that carrots help you to see in the dark, due to their vitamin A content. This isn’t true, and originates from propaganda that the British air force put out during the Second World War to explain their improved success during night air battles. In reality, it was the use of red lights on instrument panels and improvements in radar technology that were the reasons for the success – but they didn’t want their enemies to know that, so they gave the credit to carrots instead.
Today, annual world production of carrots and turnips exceeds 35 million tonnes – a little under half of which are grown in China. Carrots appear in many different cuisines around the world, particularly in salads. They’re also pretty good for you – they contain lots of vitamins A, K and B6, even if they don’t give you night vision.
So stock up on carrots next time you’re in the supermarket. You never know when you might need one.