Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Was mom lying about carrots?

April 27, 2014

Stack the Carrots Game | UncommonGoodsPretty much. Contrary to what she promised you at the dinner table, the assertion that carrots improve your eyesight is all part of a much more elaborate cover up. During WWII, German planes frequently made bombing runs over Great Britain. In response, the British set up a chain of radar stations across the southern coast of England so bombers could be detected and shot down before they reached land. This technology had to remain a secret, so the British intelligence service began a propaganda campaign that credited the incredible eyesight of soldiers for the improved defense. RAF fighter pilot John Cunningham was dubbed “Cat’s Eyes” for his ability to spot bombers in the dead of night, a talent owed to his carrot-heavy diet.

This campaign spilled over to the Ministry of Food, which began producing root vegetable cooking pamphlets, along with a mascot named Dr. Carrot (motto: Carrots keep you healthy and help you see in a blackout!) Needless to say, people bought into this hyperbole-style advertising, and the cycle continued right up into your childhood dinners. But don’t despair; carrot’s beta-carotene is an important precursor for Vitamin A, which is good for your overall eye health. And while a Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness, stocking up on it won’t do much about your prescription or your ability to see superhuman distances. Good thing mom raised you to do your research.

“Stack the Carrots” Game, $25

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