Keeping mum, keeping healthy: Dr Carrot and the RAF

Meetings, for the most part, are dull. They go on too long, often dominated by one person making the same point over and over. And often their only saving grace is that it gives you time to decide what to have for tea and whether you need to get anything from the shops. If you decide that you need some butter or honey, perhaps, you can start to make a list while your colleague drones on. This has the added benefit of looking like you’re engaged in the meeting and not biding time till the end of any other business. If it’s a late meeting childcare issues can be a great excuse to slip out early. If you haven’t got any kids, why not invent some? “I’m terribly sorry but I’ve got to pick up Agamemnon [or whatever name you’d like for your amazing fictional child] from ice hockey practice [or Scouts, or drama group, or junior shooting club, whatever].” Yes, poor Agamemnon, I mustn’t leave the little blighter alone, exposed and prey to the dangers of modernity you interminable, meeting monsters.

That said there are some meetings that I would have enjoyed being at. This includes the meeting during the Second World War where our chaps were deciding how best to fox Jerry so that the ruddy Hun didn’t rumble radar. The RAF had made great advances in radar but didn’t want the Nazis to know that that was how they managed to shoot down enemy bombers and that an airborne version had been developed. Letting this secret out would make radar stations more of a target and lead to work on counter-developments for airborne radar. I can’t be certain but I’d love to imagine a wood-panelled room filled with Britain’s best minds, sipping tea and nibbling on cake to get the old grey matter going. Now then chaps, one might proffer, how do we stop the Germans from twigging about radar? I’m sure many suggestions would have been offered, from claiming that we’d trained bats to report back with intel to claiming that we’d mastered the spirit realm and were getting guidance from famed Victorian cook Mrs Beeton floating through the air and giving away enemy locations. “Give them one for me lads!” What really happened though was perhaps just as daft. The RAF claimed that their personnel were able to pinpoint and destroy enemy targets due to their enhanced ability to see at night and that this was all thanks to carrots.

This suggestion that the carotene in carrots boosted night vision also encouraged the British public to eat more of the orangey vegetable. One information poster declared ‘carrots keep you healthy and help you see in the blackout’.

Food was scarce during the war but there was a glut of carrots and other vegetables, to keep the nation fed the Ministry of Food promoted veg through songs and posters featuring such characters as Dr Carrot and Potato Pete. They also wanted to promote growing your own to save on national resources. In 1941 Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, declared: ‘This is a food war. Every extra row of vegetables in allotments saves shipping… the battle on the kitchen front cannot be won without help from the kitchen garden.’ Woolton’s statement made it clear that everyone had their duty to perform whether soldier or civilian.

Dr Carrot encouraged kids to consider carrots as an alternative to sweets and a healthy one too. He always carried around a bag of Vitamin A to show that carrots were chock-full of this vital vitamin. Carrots were used to sweeten desserts because sugar was in such short supply. You could even get carrot treacle. And if you fancied a glass of pop, how about some carrolade? It was a yummy drink made from carrot and swede juice. Carrot jam, carrot tart, even carrot curry were all consumed to tuck in to the surplus of carrots and keep the home front healthy. With so many fresh vegetables in their diet and a limit on sugar and fats the British emerged from the war healthier than ever and skilled at putting together meals that were filling, frugal and full of essential nutrients.

After all a carrot is full of vitamins A, B and C. You’ll also find potassium, folic acid, magnesium and much more. They’re great raw but if you want to add to their natural sweetness why not serve these homefront heroes honeyroasted this Sunday lunchtime? Boil some chopped carrots for about five minutes. Meanwhile melt some butter and honey in an oven proof dish, and when ready chuck in your chopped carrots and leave to roast in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.

So in short, chop, boil, melt, chuck, roast. Eat. Yum. Just what Dr Carrot ordered.

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About Erewash and Beyond

Every Saturday 1pm-2pm - News, current events, cookery, culture and more from the Erewash Sound news team.
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One Response to Keeping mum, keeping healthy: Dr Carrot and the RAF

  1. elwoodcock says:

    I now intend to call my first born Agamemnon 🙂

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