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Beta carotene Function

Jack Davis ifjed at nmsua.nmsu.edu
Thu May 1 20:49:46 EST 1997

>Hi Paul.  The thing is that wild carrots have very little beta 
>carotene in them.  Many are white and I believe that one or two are 
>purple??  But, NONE of the wild carrots are orange in color.  There was a 
>discussion about this about a month ago.  May people believe that the 
>orange color and the Beta carotene in carrots are something that humans 
>bred.  What I mean is that many believe that humans bred carrots to have 
>lots of beta carotene and to give it the orange color because I guess 
>that color is appealing!

Humans didn't breed carrots to contain beta carotene, it had to have been 
already there, even if in minute amounts, because the advent of the orange 
carrot happened before the advent of genetic engineering.  However, it might 
be interesting to know at what point orange carrots became the norm.  That 
humans bred carrots to be contain high amounts of beta carotene is entirely 
possible.  It's funny how people respond to colors in foods, e.g., cheese is 
often dyed yellow; modern corn is usually yellow, but it can come in 
many different colors or be white, and some people really like it blue.

Jack Davis, biology/chemistry instructor
New Mexico State University-Alamogordo
Interests:  biology of Coryphanthae cacti, halophyte/Tamarisk 
            ecology, tropical dry forests, conservation education/ 
            wilderness areas

Quotes of the Week:  
"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else 
whom I knew as well.  Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by 
the narrowness of my experience."

"I have learned that the swiftest traveler is he that goes afoot."

"To make a railroad round the world available to all mankind is 
equivalent to grading the whole surface of the planet."

Walden, Henry David Thoreau

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