March 29, 2009

The Carrot Eyewash

How does it feel when one of the great near-gospel truths of your childhood is ripped apart?
'Devastated' doesn't even begin to cover it, right? Imagine how I felt when the papers published the secret behind one of the most strongly held beliefs of our childhood ... carrots are great for the eyes. Well, you can stop feeding Junior the orange stuff.

Apparently it was all a big eye-wash carefully crafted during the World War. The British had set up a chain of radar stations along the coast and didn't want the Germans to find out how they were detecting so many of the enemy planes. So they concocted this great myth of how they were feeding their men carrots to improve their sight! All the better to see you with ...

Now how much of this is truth and how much is just the stuff of urban legend, I don't even want to begin to guess. But it led to generations of mothers forcing the kiddies to "eat up! it's good for your eyes ".
In short, carrots are only good for dangling before a donkey, according to this new version of an old story. If true, we really have been the donkeys, haven't we?

I just hope that at least the part about spinach and iron is true. I'd hate to think I shovelled in tons of the green gunk for nothing !


  1. Not at all, Sunita. Carrots are good for the eyes. Have you ever seen a rabbit wearing glasses?

    Seriously, though.
    The matinee idol Clark Gable used to munch carrots I believe, as a snack. And it is said that the cartoon character Bugs Bunny was based on him and his carrot munching .

  2. Tell me that's not true!! If it is, I am not letting the news reach my two boys!

  3. I had no idea!
    Spinach must be good for us. I love it.

  4. er... Raji, I'm not sure that I want to look like Bugs Bunny. Definitely not those teeth!
    As for the Great Gable, no wonder he didn't give a damn ... he had his carrots to see him through :D

    Aditi, reading the newspaper is most injurious to a mother's peace of mind! Especially if its your kids who're doing the reading. You're left with no arguments at all.

    Sherry, I hope its of some use at least. I've forced myself to eat acres of the stuff. I think I must out-muscle Popeye by now!

  5. I am part of that generation force-fed on carrots, but still wearing glasses.
    Btw, I've read somewhere that a scientist noted down the quantity of iron in spinach with the decimal point in the wrong place. Popeye and spinach power was created based on this data, which was much later corrected by some other scientist.
    So there goes the spinach!

    I liked both blogs. :-)

  6. Aaaargh! I knew it ! Bindhu, thanks for telling me the truth about spinach. All this is beginning to sound more and more like some sort of conspiracy. Seriously!
    Now what do I replace carrots and spinach with? (think, think, think ...)
    Do you think potato chips would work? ;)

    Hey, glad you liked my blogs. Do keep checking in, okay?

  7. I hate carrots and I am so glad carrots are not good for eyes :)

    But spinach can taste great in raita, steamed, mixed with curds, add salt and roasted and powedered jeera, and it tastes great with most Indian's a staple (I wonder if this too is a myth!) to ensure regular iron intake :)

    Thank you for this really interesting piece of information :)

  8. IHM, while deeply ingrained beliefs are going pop!, do take a look at Bindhu Unny's comment here. You'd think a scientist of all people would get decimal placements right, wouldn't you? Maybe my kids would make great scientists after all!

  9. @Read it! There goes the high nutrition value of our palak raita :)

  10. IHM, I'm busy trying to convince my family that if spinach is a dud, we might as well eat grass ! Think about it... less weeds in the garden and its locally grown too ;D

  11. What? This is just a myth? But I guess it worked as a psychosomatic.

  12. I wonder, Shaheen. Maybe it did, but quite possibly your eyes would've been just as good even without them.
    Oh well, at least it helped fill the pockets of a lot of carrot farmers ;)