What’s Up with Carrots?

By Glenn I. Teves, County Extension Agent, UH CTAHR

When you think of an orange vegetable, carrots come to mind, but once upon a time the most common color of carrots wasn’t orange. It wasn’t until the 1500s that the Dutch stumbled upon an orange carrot and focused on developing more orange varieties.
Believed to be native to the area around Afghanistan, the first carrots were purple and yellow. Around A.D. 900-1200, they spread to the eastern Mediterranean, then to China and Eastern Europe by the 1300s. By the 1600s, yellow carrots reached Japan, but it wasn’t until the 1700s that orange carrots emerged in Holland and adjacent areas. White and yellow carrots are still used for livestock in eastern and western Europe, while red carrots are popular in Japan.

With the quest for new color choices in vegetables, we’ve gone full circle with the return of colorful carrots with names like Atomic Red, Nutri-Red, Purple Haze, Purple Dragon, Mello Yellow Scarlet Wonder and Rainbow. Breeding by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a high Vitamin A carrot led to the development of a cultivar called A Plus, which increased the carotene content by leaps and bounds. A collateral benefit was improved taste, especially sweetness.

A nemesis of the carrot is the root-knot nematode causing galls on the roots, and this microscopic eelworm is common in many of our soils. A solution is to grow cover crops, such as Sunn Hemp, African Marigolds, Sorghum-Sudangrass Hybrids, or a variety of cowpea called Iron and Clay.

Expert urges farmers to take lead on food safety

DENVER (AP) — A food safety expert told Colorado farmers Thursday that last year’s deadly listeria outbreak traced to Colorado cantaloupe proved that they cannot rely on third-party inspections to guarantee their produce is safe.

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Larry Goodridge, associate professor at the Center for Meat Safety and Quality in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University, told farmers that they bear primary responsibility for food safety.

“Each farm or processing facility has to be able to assess their own risks,” Goodridge told the governor’s annual forum on Colorado agriculture in Denver. “Everybody who produces food has to be responsible for the safety of the food they produce. You cannot rely on third parties. You just can’t.”

The listeria outbreak traced to Jensen Farms in eastern Colorado last year was blamed for the deaths of 32 people. It infected 146 people in 28 states with one of four strains of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jensen Farms was given a “superior” inspection rating by a third-party auditor just before the outbreak.

Allotment thieves caught after vegetable identity parade

Police caught a gang of allotment thieves after holding a bizarre identity parade – of stolen VEGETABLES.

Lawrence Miller, 44, and Steven Randall, 46, were caught carrying a bag of stolen fruit and veg at allotments in Brampton, Cambs.

To get evidence against the duo police lined up the food on the roadside and asked allotment holders to identify their stolen vegetables.

They instantly spotted their crops, including a marrow with a distinctive stripe, rhubarb, leeks and cabbages.

The two offenders were left looking red-faced as beetroot when they were ordered to pay £20 of compensation and £85 costs at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court.

Miller and Randall, who were both on benefits, were said to be living “in extreme poverty” and stole the vegetables to feed their families.

Both men were granted a conditional discharge.

Prosecutor Penny Cannon said police spotted them run across the road into the allotment and when they stopped and searched them found stolen produce.

She said: “Police carried out a unique investigation by photographing the fruit and vegetables and then putting them on the verge, asking people if they could recognise or identify the vegetables.”

One of the plots had also been damaged on the same night, the court heard,

The bright sparks of electro-horticulture

Ever since Benjamin Franklin got his knuckles burned when flying a kite in a thunderstorm, many scientists — and even more quacks — have been curious about the possibilities of what has been called electro-horticulture.

The logic is inescapable — most things react in some way to an electric current. Why shouldn’t plants react too, and perhaps grow better/faster/bigger?

While I’m not prepared to speak authoritatively on this subject in general, I have had a bit of experience with one aspect of electro-horticulture: the use of electric lights — fluorescent lights to be precise — in a contraption intended to start seedlings indoors. It had three shelves illuminated by bulbs casting a special kind of light (I’m not sure how special it really was) and provided space for a couple of dozen seed trays. At the time I was working on the 29th floor of an office building, and inevitably the contraption ended up in the corridor outside the ladies’ room, which was the only place I could find to put it.

The plants didn’t seem to mind. In fact, under the benevolent rays of the Gro-Lux, watered from time to time and admired by most of my fellow office workers as they passed by, the infant courgettes, tomatoes, snapdragons and the rest thrived. If they resented the low status of their situation, they could at least look forward to being transplanted.

Wet weather bears fruit for some

THIS summer’s weather may be a let-down, but Sydneysiders can enjoy some of the lowest fruit and vegetable prices in years.

”You better believe it … I’m selling four mangoes for $5. Last year it was two for $5,” said Frank Vecchio, owner of the Wynyard Park fruit stand in Sydney’s CBD. In his 20 years of business, Mr Vecchio said he has not seen such quantities of produce at fruit and vegetable wholesale markets.

The chief executive officer of NSW Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries, Colin Gray, said the oversupply was caused by a decline in consumer demand due to the recent unseasonal wet weather. Consequently, wholesale and retail prices have fallen.
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”The problem with the weather is that people are not buying as much, not enjoying barbecues with the fruit and salad bowls,” Mr Gray said.

In particular, the cooler weather has not enthused customers to buy traditional summer fruits such as mangoes, stone fruits and watermelons, according to Bill Chalk, wholesaler and partner of Southern Cross Produce.

He said wholesale prices for mangoes were $1-$2 per kilo compared with $5 per kilo last year and white peaches were $1-$1.50 per kilo, the lowest in years.

”The lower prices are a great thing for the public but it’s heartbreaking for the farmers,” said Mr Chalk,

Judge dismisses case against Aloun Farms owners

A federal judge granted a request by prosecutors this morning to dismiss the forced labor charges and related counts against brothers Alec and Mike Sou of Aloun Farms.

In the stunning announcement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Cushman told U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway that the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., and the local U.S. Attorneys Office were asking for the dismissal “in the interests of justice.”

Mollway granted the request to permanently dismiss the case.

“The case is closed,” she said.

Cushman said the decision to drop the case was made after discussions last night and this morning with the Justice Department’s civil rights division in Washington D.C.

“It’s the right thing to do,” U. S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni said.

The dismissal came before the start of what would have been the fourth day of a trial that was expected to span more than a month.

Asked how he felt, Alec Sou said, “Super-elated, man. It’s like 10 tons of watermelon lifted off my shoulder.”

The Sous’ lawyers were also elated.

“This confirms what we believed all along that this prosecution was baselesss and without merit,” Mike Sou’s attorney Thomas Otake said.

Hawaii farm owners face human trafficking trial

Two brothers who run one of Hawaii’s largest vegetable farms are going to trial this week on federal charges they illegally shipped 44 workers from Thailand, housed them in dirty metal containers and forced them to work for little pay.

Alec and Mike Sou of Aloun Farms each face up to 20 years in prison without parole if found guilty after they backed out of a plea deal last September that came with a five-year maximum sentence. The trial opens with jury selection Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors claim the Sou brothers gamed the United States’ guest-worker visa system in a way that economically trapped the rural north Thailand laborers on the 3,000-acre Oahu farm, which grows a variety of foods including lettuce, apples, bananas, parsley, watermelon and pumpkin year-round in Hawaii’s mild climate.

Celery root may be daunting, but it can rewarding to have in your garden

Discover celery root in a produce bin and it will not be love at first sight. What, you ponder, would anyone do with these bumpy beige orbs, from which someone has removed the nice green tops?

Pull one out of the ground and you’ll be even more daunted, faced with a tangle of gnarly roots. But persevere. Chop off those tentacles with a large knife or cleaver, and then keep chopping until all the bumps and soil-choked crevices are gone. By now the thing might be half its original weight and size. Scrub it some more, then chop it up, boil it and puree it with a little cream. Then you will see why my friend C.R. Lawn of Fedco Seeds calls it “the frog prince of vegetables.” Imagine a pile of very smooth mashed potatoes with the flavors of celery and parsley and a bit of sweetness — so rich and elegant it doesn’t need butter.

Celery root is a celery plant that’s been bred not for succulent, crunchy stalks, but for its root or, more accurately, a tuberlike enlarged stem base. (Its top growth can be used to season a soup but is not tender enough for nibbling.) Other names for it include celeriac, turnip-rooted celery and knob celery. In Europe, where it is more popular and better known than stem celery, it’s often grated or julienned and used raw in a salad, absorbing the dressing like a sponge.

AVA widens test on veggies from Europe

THE Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has gone from flagging only vegetables from Spain and Germany to flagging greens from the rest of the European Union (EU).

The widening of its ‘hold-and-test’ requirement comes on the heels of a deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany, thought to be spread through contaminated cucumbers imported from Spain.

The ‘hold-and-test’ procedure refers to the practice of sending suspected items for tests and withholding their sale until they are found to be free of contaminants.

On Sunday, the AVA had said it would place imported leafy vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes from Germany and Spain under hold-and-test, but it has since confirmed that cucumbers from Germany, Spain and Denmark are not brought in here.

Some, however, do come in from the Netherlands; between January and last month, 69kg of cucumbers were imported.

Yesterday, the AVA spokesman said: ‘In view of the recent situation, AVA will place imported leafy vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes from the EU under hold-and-test, should there be such imports.’

AVA widens test on veggies from Europe