My School Lunch - Year of Food and Farming
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Each month we will cover a new topic relating to crops that are grown on the farm, this is what we have planned:

Crops have just been harvestedOctober - Potatoes
November - Sugar beet
December - Brussels sprouts
January - Turnips
February - Cauliflowers
March - Barley
April - Lettuce
May - Rapeseed
June - Strawberries
July - Carrots

This Month
What has orange roots and green leaves

The answer is a carrot and they are one of the most popular vegetables we eat in the country.  It is only second to the potato.  A carrot plant grows in the ground with the orange root in the soil and the green leaves above the ground.  However, many years ago they were very different.  They were thin with red, purple or black roots and had a bitter taste.

This was until the Dutch saw the potential and made them into the vegetables we eat today.  However, it is a long story that we need to make short.  The first carrots grew in a place called Afghanistan and they were brought by traders into various parts of the world such as Asia and Africa.  In the Roman years the colour of the roots was white or pale yellow. They did not become orange until the 15th century. 

This is when Dutch farmers grew the vegetable and made it less bitter and orange in colour.  It Carrotswas done by crossing the pale yellow plants with the red ones to make orange.  This has become the popular vegetable that is eaten and grown all across the world today.  It is also why the colour orange is so popular in Holland as the carrot was eaten by the people in the Royal House of Orange.  You may have seen that Holland football jerseys are orange and all the supporters wear them in the stands and you see huge chunks of the orange colour on the TV.

Eating carrots is really important because they contain Vitamin A.  This helps to eliminate blindness.  Across the world, in 75 countries, there are over 350,000 blind children, so you can see why carrots are so important.  They also say that carrots help you see in the dark.

Nowadays you can get baby carrots.  These have a much smaller root and some people think they taste nicer and have a better texture.  They came about because so many of the mature carrots were thrown away because they were misshapen and had to be used to feed animals.  Baby carrots have not had the growing time in the ground so they stay small and rounded.  They can be more expensive.

You can buy carrots fresh in the shops and you can also buy them in tins and from the freezer.  They can be eaten in all sorts of ways.  You can eat them raw as part of salad, in long strips or shredded to go on top of the lettuce, tomato and cucumber.  They can be cooked in water or steam and make a delicious part of all sorts of meals such as roast meats.  You can also put carrots in a thick gravy or sauce as part of a stew e.g. beef or lamb stew.  The best way to eat them cooked is to cook them whole and then cut them up before you put them on the plate.  This keeps more of the goodness in.  Carrots can also be made into juice and carrot cake.  The latter is delicious and has become very popular in the coffee bars that you see on the High Street today.

As we come to the end of the farming year it is very important to remind you of the importance of eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.  They help to keep you healthy and you are less likely to suffer diseases like cancer and heart disease in later life.  This may seem a long way away but remember the saying - You are what you eat.  So what you eat today will affect how you feel and act as you get older.


Previous Months
June Strawberries and cream served on the lawns of Wimbledon
May Filling the fields with yellow
April Salad days will soon be here
March Grown in the North and West of Britain
February From seeds nice white cauliflowers grow
January A vegetable with a purple crown
December Sprouting from the ground
November Where does half of our sugar come from?
October Hidden in the ground
September Wheat in September
Surrey County Council
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