A Brief Hx of Daucus Carota, As Read to the Admissions Committee

Linzy Kirkpatrick, M2, Class of 2023

Genetic modification is the process of altering the DNA of an organism. A process, of selective cultivation for traits deemed to be beneficial, beautiful, robust. In the hands of harvesters, what was wild becomes commonplace; countercurrents of cuisine built upon sturdier eats and thicker meats and drought-resistant grains, passed down to become culture. Somewhere along the way, an errant hand plucked up a root —forsooth! his plan turned humble purple or white to yellow, then orange.

Humanity collectively wrote the book, wherein they threw out the stick in deference to the carrot. A peasant starch, the start to stock and stew and humble sweetness found at the base of the dish. It’s built up, and a route constructed ‘round its warm, golden glow. The carrot was selected for its brilliant hue, and no benefit can otherwise be found. It’s a labor of love, a project of vanity. And it sits a commonplace crudité in children’s lunchboxes and plastic wrapped in produce aisles, choking on cellophane, and drowning in Ranch.

Sometimes, there is a reason for the madness: selecting for character and cultivating for strength. Yet unmistakably, as we weed through history, anon a set of hands carries the weight of a paradigm that will outlast the rise and fall of civilizations, a subconscious homage to similitude on every table.

There is a movement to bring back the purple carrot. And yellow, and white, and red, and pink. We call them Heirlooms varieties (and they are every bit as carrot as the orange). Our sticks, and coins and prepackaged baby-carrot snacks aren’t going anywhere; and that isn’t the goal. To the left and the right are rows of carbon-copy carrots ad-nauseum; they phnt and wshhh and mnnnn along the factory line, while workers absently collect the oddly shaped, the variant hues and occasional earthy rot for refuse. Carrots! Beautifully packaged, and rigorously checked for sameness.

Carrots are carrots.         And heirlooms are carrots.        And if diversity is  f l a v o r, and variety is beauty, and genetic homogeneity limits adaptability—what

does that say about the heritage left in our wake, and the

infrastructure                   holding up                our

fragile ecosystem?

In an industry built on the backs of the voiceless, and disenfranchised carrots,

when do we shut down the machine and look at what is being

spit

out?

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