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Christin Urso / Spoon
Culture

Behind the Carrot Vision Myth

WWII propaganda and all

John Stolarczyk is the curator of the World Carrot Museum. On a whim, hoping to learn the ins and outs of web design, Stolarczyck wanted to make a record of something tangible, thus The World Carrot Museum was created. It has taken him far and wide, presenting different writings and meeting thousands of people, all the while uncovering the enthralling history of the world’s favorite snappy orange vegetable.

A particularly interesting historical carrot connection is the old myth that carrots improve your vision. Thought to be related to the presence of beta-carotene, carrots are supposed to make you see in the dark… or so that’s what everyone says.

However, biologists have proven that this tale holds no weight when actually looking at the science behind the myth. Though the high volume of Vitamin A has been proven to show improvement to someone’s vision, eating a bushel of carrots a day will not make you be able to see the neighborhood black cat in the middle of the night. Don’t waste your time scarfing down whole carrots if you wish to have vision like the cameras used in Ghost Hunters, because unfortunately, it won’t happen. 

But, how does something so widely understood get to that point of ubiquity?

According to the Smithsonian, the myth of carrot-induced night vision could stem from propaganda distributed among Britain during the second World War. During the time, Britain would regularly employ city-wide blackouts that made it more difficult for German soldiers to infiltrate their location. The Royal Air Force had recently developed specialized radar technology that made it easier to target German planes. However, like almost every other piece of technology in society during the time, they wanted to keep it under wraps.

After newfound success in defeating incoming German planes, the British Ministry of Information told newspapers that the reason why the British troops became incredibly accurate sharpshooters in the dead of night was because of their likeliness to eat an excess of carrots.

But wait, it doesn’t end there. That is only the beginning of the carrot takeover. The orange veggie also gained mass popularity in Britain when the Ministry of Food pushed Brits to eat carrots instead of other, more scarce vegetables by creating the character of Doctor Carrot during their campaign called Dig for Victory. Carrots were even used as a paste in place of sugar in recipes. As crazy as that sounds, I feel like that might be the next TikTok trend.

Britain’s post-WWII carrot movement led to decades of misinformation about carrot eating, leading to hopes of next-level vision. Although it is inconsequential to a lot of current topics and concerns, I feel just a little bit more content knowing that I can thank Doctor Carrot for my vegetable habits.

Hi y'all! I'm Charlotte and I'm a third-year Journalism and Strategic Communication student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This is my second year writing for Her Campus Wisconsin. When not writing, you can find me enjoying cheese boards, A24 films and cosmopolitans because Carrie Bradshaw taught me well.