Many think that the reason the orange carrot became so popular in the Netherlands was in tribute to the emblem of the House of Orange. You see, a very long time ago a town in Southern France, Arausio, which was founded by the Romans in 35 BC, was classically pronounced "Aurenja." Predictably, that became "orange" once the French commingled naranj with or. When a man named William the Silent from Nassau inherited the rule in Orange in 1544, he became William of Orange, founder of the ruling dynasty the House of Orange. He led the Dutch in a revolt against the Spanish in the late 1500s, and they eventually won their independence in the form of the Dutch Republic.
At this time, the Dutch were primarily known as carrot farmers. And they grew carrots in the traditional hues of purple, yellow, and white. In the 17th century, a strain of carrot was developed that contained higher amounts of beta carotene -- the first orange carrot. Dutch carrot farmers were being heavily taxed at the time and the appearance of the orange carrot gave them an idea; grow the orange carrot and present it in tribute to the House of Orange hoping that in gratitude their taxes would be reduced. It worked! The new orange carrots where a huge hit and the farmers’ taxes were not just reduced but a tax on orange carrots was actually forbidden! The orange carrots became all the rage and the traditional, more colorful and more phytonutrient rich carrots, were tossed aside for these newly fashionable carrots.
So you see Dutch politics, greed and good old human vanity are to blame. A thousand years of yellow, white and purple carrot history was nearly wiped out in a single generation of man. Oh, what a wonder is man!
Come on, is that really true?
Although some sources think this explanation is not 100% true most seem to believe in its accuracy. I tend to believe that this could be, but it also might just be that the orange carrots that the Dutch developed were sweeter tasting and fleshier than their purple counterparts, thus providing more calories per plant and being better tasting they were propagated more frequently generation after generation. Not to mention the not being taxed thing.
Whatever the reason, orange carrots are now found in every mega-mart and convenience store in the Free World and it is nearly impossible to find the colorful varieties that once ruled the carrot world. This is a real shame because many of the more colorful varieties offer far more phytonutrients and a richer carrot flavor than the typical orange variety. But you can always grow your own in your Phytonutrient Garden!