Standard Pages (they don't change often)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Vanity colors

Around Texas, you'll find these purplish (ok, maroon) carrots labeled "beta-sweets", which were developed at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Allegedly sweeter and "healthier", the more significant effect is likely to be around the color. TAMU and University of Texas at Austin (UT) have a historical football rivalry, and fans of each school rally around the school colors: TAMU maroon, and UT orange. And, no doubt, that rivalry extends to carrots. 

The funny thing, though, is that this may just be an evolutionary throwback: purple carrots predated the orange. In fact, orange carrots were a horticultural engineering feat as well. You can learn a lot about the history of carrots in the online Carrot Museum. Carrots used to be these thin bitter roots that came in colors from yellow to purple, and patient Dutch plant breeders selected for the orange sweet roots we know ubiquitously today. And, not quite coincidentally - orange is the color of the Dutch Royal House

Speaking of orange: many mistake orange pekoe tea to be flavored with orange peel, akin to how Earl Grey tea is flavored with bergamot. Actually, the orange pekoe grading likely comes historically from Sri Lankan tea destined for the Dutch Royal house, and was thus, labeled orange. 

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