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In the springtime your carrots come from Massimo and Giovanni Spataro in Ispica, Sicily. The land there is sandy, great for carrots, as well as the fennel, globe artichokes and potatoes they often grow for us.
For a large proportion of the year our carrots are from the UK - from Nick Walton's idyllic Bagthorpe Farm in Norfolk and Andrew Skea's farm in Scotland. Nick lives on the gorgeous Bagthorpe Farm, not far from the Norfolk coast, and rotates his crops regularly to get a rich diversity of soils, plants and wildlife. Andrew Skea has been farming carrots for over ten years now and still works with his family on his farms, despite all the success he's gained.
Carrots stand out from other fresh fruit and vegetables for the number of health benefits that they offer. At one time, carrots were only thought to be useful to the body for their vitamin A content (explaining why they are connected to reducing eyestrain and seeing in the dark!). Their high levels of beta-carotene have been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer: people who eat carrots regularly are far less likely to contract lung cancer. Carrots provide a simple way to lower blood cholesterol: eating 200g of raw carrots a week was found to reduce blood cholesterol by a massive 11% after three weeks. However to keep the benefits, you have to keep on eating them! Food poisoning can sometimes be prevented even by small amounts of raw carrot.
Carrots will maintain their Beta-carotene even through boiling, although other nutrients are lost into the water, as the orange colour it obtains will show. However raw carrots can be finely or coarsely grated, cut into matchsticks or fingers to add colour as well as crunch and flavour to many dishes. Carrots should be stored in the warmest part of the fridge or in a cool dark place.