By Andrea Yoder
|Andrea motoring around the cooler!|
|Bin of 'funny' carrots.|
You know, carrots and people have more in common than any of us may ever have taken the time to reflect on. Carrots, just like people, come in a rainbow of colors…yes, there are more colors of carrots than just orange. We grow beautiful bright orange carrots, but we also grow some stunning dark purple varieties as well as bright, golden yellow carrots, red carrots and even white carrots! Carrot seed is produced all around the world, with some seed coming from Oregon state in the US while other seed is produced in France and even South Africa to name just a few locations. But when someone looks at a carrot or takes a bite of it, does it really matter where that carrot came from originally or what color it is? I might choose to use purple carrots for roasting and orange carrots to make a soup because these are the preparations where each color will shine the most, but aside from that the color of the carrot doesn’t matter as long as it’s a delicious tasting carrot!
In the vegetable industry, there is a classification system for sorting vegetables. Straight carrots are sorted as “number 1,” carrots that are slightly less than perfect end up labeled as “number 2,” really crazy looking carrots are called “number 3,” etc and with each class ranking the value of the carrot decreases. The reality is that every crop of carrots is different and the perfect, straight, number 1 carrots may only be a small percentage of some crops. Of course these perfect carrots are what every buyer and customer wants, they’re obviously more desirable and more valuable…is that true? And those less than perfect carrots that are left behind? What are we supposed to do with all of those? Does an imperfection in the shape of how a carrot grew make the carrot bitter or somehow inedible? In my experience these carrots taste just as good as the straight ones, we just haven’t grown to the point as a society where we can willingly accept and embrace their uniqueness. Yet every carrot has a purpose and in the hands of the right person, that carrot can realize its purpose.
As with carrots, so with people. We’re not all “perfect,” but we all have
purpose and value. Is it fair to toss
aside those people/carrots that aren’t perfect and deem them “less valuable”
than the others? Perhaps they require a
little more care and attention to trim them up and make them usable, but if you
make a pot of delicious carrot soup, when its done you won’t know if it was
made from a straight, perfect carrot or a funny shaped carrot. If it was a good tasting carrot, that is the
characteristic that will leave the lasting impact. Those funny shaped carrots demonstrate the
harsh realities of life in a field.
Sometimes you hit a rock or a hard spot in life that might set you back. You can give up, wither and fade away, or you
can push through and overcome the obstacle.
In the case of a carrot with a funny shape, that doesn’t represent an
inferior carrot, the shape demonstrates the fact that this is a carrot that
came up against adversity and continued to push through, determined to grow and
make something of itself. Carrots can’t
get up and choose to relocate to a different field. They have to do the best they can with what
they have. This year our carrots had
some trying times---first it was too dry, then it was too wet. Yes, all these life events played a role in
shaping their final outcome, just as we too are shaped by our life
experiences. Just because we may look or
seem a little different than someone else doesn’t mean we’re less
valuable. Yes, funny carrots require a
little more time and attention to trim and clean them, but on the inside they
are still sweet and delicious! Funny and
broken carrots that might be tossed to the side, discarded and ignored, may be
the most valuable carrots to some. A
farmer might snatch them up…. “Hey I’ll take these. They’ll be a great source of nutrition for my
animals.” Or another farmer might want
them to work into his compost pile to create compost to put on the field to
feed another year’s crop. A chef might
spot them and say, “Oh, let me toss these in my stockpot. They’ll add depth of flavor and a special
sweetness to this stock!”
|'Funny' Shaped vegetaables are beautiful in their own way!|
And so it is with people. We all have our own purpose in life and while some may seem to have a more glorious purpose than others, at the end of the day it takes all of us to make this world work. Let us not be too quick to judge, but rather lets embrace the diversity and uniqueness of each person/carrot while focusing on the positive qualities that really matter, offering a little extra time and patience to work with them, and allowing them to become the something beautiful, sweet and valuable that they were meant to be.
No, I never really thought a carrot could teach me anything about life, but there are some important parallels we can embrace. With open minds, hearts and appetites, I hope we can all move forward into this season of Thanksgiving and a new year with a heart of gratitude and acceptance for all the people of this world and all the carrots of the fields. Happy Thanksgiving.