Carrots Don’t Help You See In The Dark

When I was a young child (around 1983ish) I was told a few old wives’ tales by those who you naturally assume know better – old wives. Yes, I know now why untrue things are called old wives’ tales but I was young then and had yet to learn. So it was that I thought cleaning my plate somehow fed the starving children of Africa (you’re welcome), eating crusts would give me curly hair (it did, just not on my head) and that eating carrots would give me better night vision.

Now I don’t want to give you the impression I’m some sort of terrifying creep who stalks the night (like that Bruce Wayne fellow) but that last one really interested me. I looked it up as my hair was as straight as it could be despite eating crusts of bread and I was afraid I’d be fooled again. This was pre-internet if you can imagine/remember such a thing, so looking like that up involved reading several books and cross referencing the information. I found out that carrots were a good source of vitamin A and that vitamin A was related to night vision. While there was nothing to say that eating carrots improved night vision there were reports that decreased amounts of vitamin A could make night vision worse. I was convinced and started eating these horrific orange vegetables as often as possible, forcing them down despite the fact they usually made me feel sick. I practised my night vision at night (well, duh!), trying to read in the dark and mistaking my eyes becoming accustomed to the dark and my knowledge of the pages of my favourite book for actual carrot-induced progress, but it was all a con.

The truth is that the evil nation of living carrots was taking us over from within...

In this case it was a con that went back forty-three years at the time to 1940 and the Second World War. Between July 10 and October 31st 1940, Germany attacked the Britain in what later became known as the Battle of Britain. The battle stands apart from all previous military conflicts as it was the first major campaign to be entirely fought in the air. Germany wanted to completely overwhelm the British air defences and, once Britain was defenceless, get them to surrender. However, the British forces had a secret weapon up their sleeve – radar. New advances and techniques had been discovered that the British kept to themselves at the time and used to defend the realm. Using these techniques, British gunners were able to shoot down planes with unerring accuracy even in the dead of night. As this was a closely guarded military secret the Royal Air Force convened a small council to come up with some misinformation to put spies off the scent.

Rumours were spread that British gunners were eating tons of carrots in order to improve their night vision. Files seized during and after the war point out the overwhelming success of the misinformation campaign. German gunners and pilots had carrots introduced more heavily into their rations and study into this phenomena had been given higher priority than improving radar techniques. So total was the spread of this misinformation that forty-three years later I was still being told it as fact and seventy-two years later I still have a hard time finding any proof of the truth of the matter.

And the truth of the matter is this; carrots do not help you see in the dark, but they do help to win wars.

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23 thoughts on “Carrots Don’t Help You See In The Dark

  1. Pretty much. Only the British could come up with such a ridiculous claim, and have the world believe it for decades.

  2. Nice photo Mik! how do? Intereting the things we are told as children innit? Well my hair is curly regardless of crusts or otherwise…so there.

  3. It's so interesting how such stories just keep on being told from generation to generation. So is the "if you swallow your chewing gum you'll get a hole in your stomach" not true either? :left:

  4. You're supposed to chew them there carrots up before ya swallers 'em … no wonder they made ya sick.

  5. And I was a victim of a lie spread by cartoon character Popeye and his obsession with spinach. My parents were telling me that eating a lot of spinach will make me having muscles and strength as Popeye.I remained skinny for my whole life :awww:

  6. I was also told that something bad would happen if I swallowed chewing gum. Something like it would stretch out and knot my stomach up. I believed it for a long time :)(and I still don't swallow gum 😆 )

  7. I remembered some minutes ago one of my dad's stories about that young lad in his village who joined the Luftwaffe in the war. Didn't came back from his first Feindflug… well, not before the end of the war. Seems that he quit service somewhere over England and surrendered immediately to the British. Obviously he had even learned English as a preparation. You cannot win when your soldiers have lost the faith. Carrots cannot cure this.

  8. @dW We usually had a fresh spinach, I can't remember I've ever had canned one. Frozen was another option 🙄

  9. Frozen is good. Fresh wasn't an option when I was a little kid; it just wasn't available (Probably something to do with the War, though I don't think it was classified as a vital war material). My mom used to take the frozen or canned and fry it in bacon fat, and was it good! Probably cause me an instant coronary occlusion, today.BTW … check the recipe I put up on Studio 41's post about "I am sad" http://my.opera.com/studio41/blog/2012/02/07/i-am-sad#comments … it's on the second page of the comments.

  10. Oh I didn't know about the bacon fat thing. I fry my spinach in butter myself. It's awesome. I guess bacon fat would make it even better.

  11. Fried spinach works well with dishes that use chicken, eggs, mushrooms, or maybe some other things as well. You fry it lightly in butter (or bacon fat which I will have to try) while turning it gently until it collapses. You can season it with salt and pepper, and in some dishes it goes well with lemon as well. Cooked vegetables… :yuck: .

  12. Doc, undead toilet monster have long been the bane of my life too. Of course, I eat a lot of fried chicken so it's to be expected. Darko, spinach is a lie. Over here we have a character called Desperate Dan who, despite sounding like a comedy porn star, was incredibly strong and ate cow pies. I was exposed to that before Popeye and after tasting steak pie there was no way spinach could sway me.Pineas, I know a lot of people joined up with armies just to escape the country they were in. Happens in every war like that.You're welcome young Clint. I did my best to help you.

  13. This post took me back to being given a book aged 7 by my grandmother called Things You Thought You Thought You Knew, which contained pretty much the above :DOf course, being 7, most of what was in it I'd never even thought I knew in the first place :p

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