My informant, a fellow dorm-mate of mine at USC, was eating whole raw carrots one night as I was walking past his room. I turned in, asking him why he would be eating such a snack. He said, half-jokingly, haven’t you heard?
“Carrots improve your vision”
Though this wasn’t the real reason that he was eating the carrot, I asked him more about the origins where he had heard such a thing. “I’m not sure”, he said “I just always heard that growing up as a kid. My dad used to say it to me when I didn’t want to eat my vegetables”. Others joined in the conversation as well, some saying it was fact, others stating it was myth.
After looking up this debate online, we found that it was once reported in the London Sunday telegraph that this rumor is a myth, and that it dates back all the way to WWII when Britan’s air ministry created the rumor that a steady diet of carrots would help their pilots see Nazi bombers that were attacking at night. In reality, the article read, it was to cover up their new technology of interception radar so the Nazi’s wouldn’t find out about it. Apparently it was so convincing that the English populous took to eating carrots to improve their vision (Sunday Telegraph). From then on, it appears the rumor has spread and hasn’t been overwhelmingly disproved to the many that still believe it. Further, I personally believe that much of its survival has been a tactic by parents to get their children to eat more vegetables and carrots. In addition, I believe the placebo effect may come into play in this situation, making individuals subconsciously convince themselves that their eyesight is improving after eating carrots.
London. Sunday Telegraph. “Don’t Expect to See Like a Hawk After Eating Your Carrots with Today’s Roast”. 9 March 2003. (p. 41).